top of page

1. Study On Transgenders

1.1 Efforts taken to improve the situation of transgenders in India

National Legal Services Authority versus Union of India:

  • The Supreme Court of India legalized the presence of transgender people in 2014, and allowed the legal creation of a “third gender” category. o The judgement also called for affirmative action in education, primary health care, and that transgenders be identified as beneficiaries of social welfare schemes.

  • NHRC in its report has pointed that center and state government have failed to implement SC guidelines in NALSA judgement or bring laws to improve lives of the transgenders. There is also no clarity on OBC status of transgenders".

1.2. Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016:

  • The Bill defines a transgender person as one who is partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male. In addition, the person’s gender must not match the gender assigned at birth, and includes trans-men, trans-women, persons with intersex variations and gender-queers.

  • It prohibits discrimination against a transgender person in areas such as education, employment, and healthcare. It directs the central and state governments to provide welfare schemes in these areas.

  • Offences like compelling a transgender person to beg, denial of access to a public place, physical and sexual abuse, etc. would attract up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine.

  • It directs Central government to constitute a National Council for Transgender headed by the Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment.

  • It provides no child who is born a transgender can be separated from his parents except on a court’s order.

  • Every transgender person shall have a right to reside in the house-hold where parent or immediate family members reside;

  • a right not to be excluded from such house-hold or any part thereof;

  • a right to enjoy and use the facilities of such house-hold in a nondiscriminatory manner.

  • The Government shall take the following measures in relation to the transgender persons, namely: a separate HIV surveillance Centres;

  • to provide for medical care facility including sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy; pre and post sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy counselling;

  • bring out a Health Manual related to sex reassignment surgery in accordance with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health guidelines;

  • to facilitate access to the transgender persons in the hospitals and other healthcare institutions and centres;

  • provision for coverage of medical expenses by a comprehensive insurance scheme for transgender persons.

  • Issues with the bill: The Bill states that a person recognised as ‘transgender’ would have the right to ‘self-perceived’ gender identity. However, it does not provide for the enforcement of such a right. A District Screening Committee would issue a certificate of identity to recognise transgender persons.

  • The Supreme Court has held that the right to self-identification of gender is part of the right to dignity and autonomy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

  • The definition of ‘transgender persons’ in the Bill is at variance with the definitions recognised by international bodies and experts in India.

  • The Bill includes terms like ‘trans-men’, ‘trans-women’, persons with ‘intersex variations’ and ‘gender-queers’ in its definition of transgender persons. However, these terms have not been defined.

  • Certain criminal and personal laws that are currently in force only recognise the genders of ‘man’ and ‘woman’. It is unclear how such laws would apply to transgender persons who may not identify with either of the two genders.

  • It does not include the creation of institutions like the national and State commissions for transgenders, as well as transgender rights courts which were part of the earlier draft bill.

  • Tamil Nadu is frontrunning state in taking steps for development of transgenders by providing them education, identity cards and subsidized food and free housing. In a pioneering effort to address the issues faced by transgender people, the government of Tamil Nadu established a transgender welfare board in 2008 (West Bengal, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka have also established the board). Seats have been reserved in colleges and universities for the members of transgender community.

  • Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative has formed a federation of 20,000 transgenders which provides various health services to its members.

  • Kerala government brought the ‘State Policy for Transgenders in Kerala 2015’ to provide the “right to live with dignity.” Village and district panchayats and municipalities have been tasked with finding jobs, running special training and skills programmes and welfare projects.

  • A Transgender Justice Board has been established to address issues of discrimination and violence against them.

1.3. Successful Transgender persons in India

  • In 1998 Shabnam Mausi became first transgender to get elected to a public office.

  • In 2014, Grace Banu was the first transgender student to secure admission in an engineering college.

  • In 2015, India got its first transgender college principal when Manabi Bandhopadhyaya joined as the principle of Krishnagar Women’s College in West Bengal.

  • Revathi became the first transgender to write about transgender issues and gender politics in Tamil.

  • Padmini Prakash is the first transgender television news anchor in the country.

  • University Grants commission in 2014 issued a notification to facilitate the education of transgenders such as grievance cells in colleges, separate category in admission and examination forms etc.

  • Important steps taken by states:

Way forward

International Practices

  • Countries like Denmark, Malta and Argentina have made legislations related to self-determination. Following Argentina’s lead India can choose to adopt the Yogyakarta principles- i.e. adopt a model of gender recognition that does not rely on a diagnosis by medical professionals.

  • In United Kingdom change in legal sex does not have an effect on marriage, security benefits/pensions and do not adversely affect parenthood or succession rights.

  • Following precedents set by Iran, Argentina and Brazil sexual reassignment surgery and hormone therapy should be defined as a public health right and be made freely available.

  • Government has taken certain measures to identify and enumerate transgender population. These measures need more streamlining and inter-ministerial cooperation is also required.

  • While various state governments formulated schemes for transgender communities, a National policy is an urgent need to ensure greater involvement of transgender persons in policy formulation and program development.

  • It is important to sensitize parents of transgender children and other members of the society with regards to the human rights of the transgender community.

  • Transgender children are under severe stress and low self-esteem and counselling services need to be provided to them. A component of such services could be included under the Integrated Child Protection Schemes.

  • Legal and the law enforcement systems need to be empowered and sensitized on the issues of Transgender community. Special Grievance Redressal Cells for their protection should be set up in all police stations.

  • Child Protection laws need to be strengthened to address issues faced by transgender adolescents. The abandonment of child is a punishable offence under Section 317 of IPC. The age limit of child for this offence need to be increased to 18 years as abandonment of transgender children usually takes place between 12 and 18 years.

  • Care homes for transgender children should be setup to prevent exploitation of vulnerable transgender children.

  • Legally transgender cannot enter into a marriage, have spouse and setup their own family in India. They need to be provided right to marry and right to a family along with right of sexual orientation.

  • Government should take steps to provide housing facilities to transgender people.

  • Transgender people should get equal employment opportunities and every employer should be made to declare policy statement on trans recruitments.

  • Local governments need to play a positive and proactive role in removal of taboos and discrimination.

  • All treatment and other facilities should be provided at free of cost or at subsidized rates to all transgender patients in both government and private hospitals.

  • School and colleges need to play a supportive and encouraging role in providing education and value-system to Transgender.

  • Establishment of helpline for career planning and guidance, career opportunities and online placement system must be empowered.

  • Liberal credit facilities and financial assistance must be ensured to start up their career as an entrepreneur or businessman.

2. Care Economy

What is care economy?

  • The care economy entails the production and consumption of goods and services necessary for the physical, social, mental and emotional well-being of care-dependent groups, such as children, the elderly, the ill and people with disabilities, as well as healthy, prime working-age adults. In 2015, 2.1 billion people children, older persons, people with several disabilities needed care and by 2030 this number will increase by 200 million people.

  • Care work consists of two overlapping activities: direct, personal and relational care activities, such as feeding a baby or nursing an ill partner; and indirect care activities, such as cooking and cleaning.

  • Unpaid care work is care work provided without a monetary reward by unpaid carers. Paid care work is performed for pay or profit by care workers such as nurses, teachers, doctors and personal care workers. Domestic workers, who provide both direct and indirect care in households, are also part of the care.

2.1. Care Economy in India

  • Women in India do almost 10 times as much unpaid work as men leaving them out of the formal workforce and unable to contribute to the economy.

  • Due to the higher share of unpaid care work such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children and older members of the family, women’s contribution is left out of GDP.

  • Women are responsible for only 17% of India’s GDP (In China-40%).workforce.

2.2. Care economy and Gender inequality

  • The majority of the care work worldwide is undertaken by unpaid carers, mostly women and girls from socially disadvantaged groups.

  • Unpaid care activities constitute a time and energy-consuming occupation that limits women’s access to the labour market, relegating them to low-income and insecure employment.

  • Most paid care workers are women, frequently migrants and working in the informal economy under poor conditions and for low pay and it forms important source of employment for women.

  • Gender inequalities in unpaid care work are also linked to gender wage gaps. In countries where women shoulder most of the responsibility for unpaid care work, they are less likely to be engaged in paid employment, and those who are active in the labour market are more likely to be limited to part-time or informal employment, and earn less than their male peers.

Why is care work central to overall human development?

  • Reorganization of the care economy to correct the gender imbalances in unpaid care work is an indispensable component of any policy intervention towards gender equality.

  • Care economy is a development policy issue that also pertains to poverty reduction, elimination of inequalities by socio-economic status, decent jobs creation and sustainable and inclusive growth.

  • Children are the workforce of the future, and investing in high quality and affordable childcare lays the foundation for our future.

  • Care policy coverage deficits impact the most disadvantaged groups like people with care needs and care responsibilities (especially women), older persons, people living with disabilities, those living with HIV, indigenous peoples, those living in rural areas and those working in non-standard forms of employment or in the informal economy.

  • The global prominence of nuclear families and single-headed households, higher care dependency ratios, changing care needs and the growth of women’s employment in certain countries increase the demand for care workers.

Way forward

  • To avert a global care crisis and meet the Sustainable Development Goals the policy recommendations and measures are needed to achieve the high road to care work in the form of 5R Framework for Decent Care Work.

3. Harassment Of Women At Workplace

Background

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) has been making continuous efforts to mainstream the implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013.

  • All ministries and departments under central government have to constitute Internal Complaints Committee. Complaints can be filed under the Act directly with the ministry through the SHE-Box.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013:

  • It seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work. The Act defines sexual harassment at the workplace and creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints.

  • The definition of “aggrieved woman,” who will get protection under the Act, is extremely wide to cover all women, irrespective of their age or employment status and whether in the organized or unorganized sectors, public or private, and covers clients, customers and domestic workers as well.

  • The Act covers concepts of quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment as forms of sexual harassment if they occur in connection with an act or behaviour of sexual harassment.

  • An internal complaints committee (ICC) is mandatory in every private or public organisation that has 10 or more employees.

  • The Internal Complaints Committee has been given powers of a civil court for summoning, discovery and production of documents etc.

  • Each Internal Committee requires membership from an NGO or association committed to the cause of women.

  • A ‘Local Complaints Committee’ is required to be constituted in every district. An additional ‘Local Complaints Committee’ shall also be constituted at the block level to address complaints in situations where the complainant does not have recourse to an Internal Complaints Committee or where the complaint is against the employer himself.

  • It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges.

Criticism of the Act

  • The internal committee formed under this act has the power to decide a monetary fine which must be paid by the perpetrator, depending on their income and financial stability. This is a kind of discriminatory method, it supports and envisages inequality among different sections of the society, for example, a person earning low income would be paying a lower fine compared to a senior who earns more.

  • The Act does not cover the agricultural workers and armed forces.

  • The Act does not satisfactorily address accountability. It does not specify who is in charge of ensuring that workplaces comply with the Act.

  • It is not a gender-neutral legislation and protects only women from sexual harassment at workplace.

  • In context of this the MWCD had requested the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for making disclosure of compliance mandatory in annual reports of private companies.

Rationale behind the amendment in rules

  • The inclusion of the compliance under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act in the non-financial disclosures will ensure that the issue gets into the focus into Board of Directors of the private companies. This will cast higher responsibility on the Directors for implementation of the Act.

Harassment of women at workplace

  • Reason for harassment: The basic reason for women harassment at workplace lies in patriarchal structure of the society leading to a sense of male superiority. Apart from jealousy at work, there is general feeling of contempt and disrespect against women which is visible through sexually perverted behaviours.

  • Between 2014 and 2015 cases of sexual harassment within office premises more than doubled and there has also been a 51% rise in sexual harassment cases at other places related to work in 2015.

3.1 Reasons for failure to report safety concerns:

  • Lack of understanding: Most women perceive that the behavior is not serious enough for them to take the next step and complain as there is a lack of understanding of what harassment is, the laws covering women safety and what they entail.

  • Lack of faith: Women lack faith in the complaints process as registering a complaint can be embarrassing and the complaint process seem difficult and useless.

  • Fear of retaliation: The fear of retaliation by the harasser or organization also makes them silent about it.

  • Self-judgement: Some women consider that they can take care of the situation themselves rather than going through the entire complaints redressal procedure.

  • Social stigma: There is a stigma attached to sexual harassment in Indian society. Most of the time women are looked down upon if they report such a case, irrespective of who is at fault in that situation. Several incidences of shaming at social media of women who report sexual abuse have been observed.

  • In 2017, the National Commission for Women received an average of 1.7 complaints of sexual harassment at workplace per day.

  • 60% of complaints received in 2017 were from five states: Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.

  • In 2015 a study by FICCI titled Fostering Safe Workplaces showed that 36% of Indian companies and 25% of multinational companies had not yet constituted their ICCs. About 50% of the more than 120 companies that participated in the study admitted that their ICC members were not legally trained.

  • The Act imposes a penalty of upto Rs 50,000 on employers who do not implement the Act in the workplace or even fail to constitute an ICC. But, the number of employers who do not fully comply with the law indicates that there is little monitoring of their redressal machinery.

  • According to a survey conducted by the Indian Bar Association in 2017, 70% women did not report sexual harassment by superiors.

3.2. Measures which an organisation can take to enhance the safety of women at workplace

  • Getting women to speak up: The organisation should make the environment conducive enough for women to register complaints against any such act. The registration complaints in severe cases directed to the government should be fast-tracked.

  • Deploying technology: Technology such as GPS, CCTV cameras, mobile apps etc should be leveraged to create secure workplace and transportation to the women employees.

  • Gender sensitisation training: Corporates should conduct gender-sensitization trainings and awareness programs for both men and women across their operations.

  • Mandating appropriate work practices: Organisations often give more importance towards productivity than safety which gives a wrong signal to employees. The top management level should try to make safety a priority.

  • Instituting safe working conditions: With a growing economy, working multiple shifts and late hours at the office are quite common. The rising crimes against women limits their capabilities. Therefore, an organization may permit women to look at options such as telecommuting, leaving the office on time and catching up on unfinished work at home. Female security guards can be posted at necessary points in offices and a basic pantry inside the office premises can be provided so that women employees need not venture out for dinner when working late.

  • Zero tolerance policy should be adopted within code of conduct for employees to show companies' firmness against such sexual harassment.

  • Successful "Campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp have helped more and more women to come up and speak of their experiences of abuse.

Conclusion

  • Women always have to trade-off between safety and financial security which partly explains India’s low female workforce participation rate as the fear of harassment keeps many skilled women away from the workforce. This is hurting India’s productivity and economic growth, as According to World Bank estimates, India’s economic growth can rise by a full percentage point if it even manages to raise its female LFPR to the level of Bangladesh. An adequate monitoring and redressal of sexual harassment in companies can play an important role in creating an enabling environment for women.

4. Suicide In India

4.1. Causes of suicides in India

  • Farmers Suicides o The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report underlines that indebtedness is found to be the single largest underlying cause behind farmers’ suicide.

  • Maharashtra which had the largest number of farmer suicides concluded that 93 percent of all these suicides are due to debt.

  • Student Suicides o Parents’ over expectations on their academic achievements and criticisms on their underperformance could be contributing factors

  • Suicide in armed forces o Soldiers posted in far flung areas and on prolonged deployment undergo tremendous mental stress

  • This could be compounded by the lack of basic amenities, ineffectual leadership, and humiliation at the hands of their officers.

  • Indebtedness in Rural India o The NSSO data indicates that in 2002 about 27 percent of rural Indian households were indebted and 18 percent of urban households. In 2013 the rural indebtedness in Indian households had gone up to 31 percent.

  • Family problems’ and ‘illness’ are the leading reported causes of suicides.

  • Substances abuse: Many of the substance abusers attempt suicide while under the influence of alcohol

  • Other reasons such as poverty, unemployment, lover affairs and bankruptcy are very insignificant reported causes of suicides.

Challenges

  • Role of Media in Spreading Suicide Contagion o It has the tendency to glorify and sensationalize the deaths resulting in a highly charged emotional atmosphere that promotes further suicidal behaviour.

  • Behavioural and psychiatric problems make cluster members more susceptible to suicide. And a significant number of these appear to be associated with suicide stories in the mass media.

  • Impact of internet and other communication networks on suicide

  • Excessive users of internet were found to have high scores on anxiety and depression

  • Games such as ‘Blue Whale’ which is encouraging people to kill themselves

Way forward

  • Opening up of suicide prevention clinics in all the Medical College Hospitals, District Head Quarters Hospitals etc. will help to prevent repeat attempts

  • Revamping the educational system with an objective to promote holistic development of the child, rather than the undue emphasis on scoring of marks in various subjects

  • Restricting the access to means of suicide including measures for control of availability of pesticides, medications, etc.

  • Largest share of suicides in India is committed by housewives whose concerns can also be addressed through improved access to mental and physical healthcare.

  • It is imperative for policy makers in India to take note and design interventions that can address distress amongst various population groups and not aggravate by misjudging and focusing on indebtedness alone.

  • Easy access to credit and better MSPs can help reducing farmer suicides

  • Media should avoid glamorizing the victim, for example highly publicized politician visits and offering special packages might aggravate suicide contagion.

  • It should avoid excessive detailing of the suicide method

  • It is imperative that the media has a code of ethics and guidelines for reporting suicides.

5. The Rte Amendment Bill, 2017

Background

  • The 86th Constitution Amendment Act, 2002 requires the State to provide free and compulsory elementary education to all children. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 seeks to give effect to this Amendment under which all children between the ages of 6 and 14 years have the right to elementary education (class 1-8) in a neighbourhood school.

  • The Section 30 (1) of the RTE Act states that a child cannot be detained in any class till the completion of elementary education.

  • In recent years, two expert committees-Geeta Bhukkal (2014) and TSR Subramanian (2016)- reviewed the no-detention provision in the RTE Act and recommended it be removed or be discontinued in a phased manner.

  • As per the amendment bill, regular examination will be held in Classes 5 and 8 and if a child fails there is a provision to give her additional opportunity to take a re-examination within two months. If she fails again in the re-examination, the relevant Central or State Government may decide to allow schools to detain the child.

Arguments against No Detention Policy

  • No incentives for children to learn and for the teachers to teach: there is no provision under RTE Act to ensure objective measurement of learning outcomes through criteria such as attendance, test scores or examinations at the end of every class and thus automatic promotion reduces incentives for both children and teachers.

  • Children become non-serious, inattentive to studies and irregular in attendance: for many students the Mid Day Meal is the only incentive, thus though No detention policy resulted in significant increase in enrollment, there has been little or no improvement in academic standards or quality of education.

  • Students lack required educational competence, knowledge and skills relevant to higher classes: thus their poor performance further enhances in every subsequent class. Moreover, promoting laggards drags down the standard of the whole class and handicaps the teacher’s ability to teach the curriculum at the expected pace which is unfair to the majority of the students in the class.

  • Increases the pressure and tension on the child: Failing to ensure that child learns fundamentals of language (mother tongue) and basic arithmetic in primary classes increases the pressure and tension on the child and she may start drifting away from regular schooling system.

  • Reduction of dropout rate is an artificial construct and illusion created by No detention policy: Automatic promotion of children only rolls over and postpones the problem of dropouts as seen from shoot up of dropouts in class 8 at the end of elementary stage.

  • Number of students failing in class 9 examinations has been on increase in many states: In Delhi, for instance, the number of repeating students as a percentage of total students enrolled in Class 9 rose from 2.8% in 2010 to 13.4% in 2014, thus resulting in many states demanding a review of no detention policy.

5.1 Arguments for the No Detention Policy

  • Detaining children at the elementary level damages their self-esteem and give them a permanent inferiority complex: The social stigma associated with “failing”, has deeply damaging effects on the psyche of the child.

  • Detention leads to increased dropouts and rise in number of social problems: Fear of failing in examinations and being detained has a detrimental effect on curricular learning for children. Detention leads to children dropping out of school and taking to vagrancy, begging and petty crime. On the other hand, keeping children in school prevents a host of social problems, including juvenile delinquency and child marriage.

  • Detention makes a child repeat entire syllabus of the class: However, instead of detaining and repeating the same whole material again for another nine months, weaker areas of the child can be selectively targeted to cover the gaps in two or three months.

  • Learning as a continuous process: Learning takes place in a continuum and any pass or fail categorization at a particular point of time is a narrow simplification and educationally invalid.

  • Issues with poor and vulnerable children: In rural areas and among below poverty line families, educational awareness is missing which often result in late admissions in the schools. In other cases, children miss school for long periods due to poverty, illness, engagement in child labour and thus lag behind in their studies, performing badly in the examination. Detention will only aggravate these weaknesses and encourage them to drop out and remain unschooled forever.

  • Steady rise in the GER at the elementary level for the marginalized sections of the society: for both boys and girls, as well as for Scheduled Castes, Tribes and other marginalised sections since the coming into effect of the no-detention policy. In a deeply fragmented society such as India, this is a significant gain which should not be reversed.

Way Forward

  • Education should be inclusive and should have a common curriculum, so that all children become familiar with the basic concepts, tenets, principles and ethos of an Indian education.

  • Detention should be resorted to only after giving the child remedial coaching and at least two extra chances to prove his capability.

  • As recommended by TSR Subramanian committee if a child again fails to clear the examination, she should also be given other opportunities of pursuing her education through a vocational stream so that she can demonstrate her abilities and competencies elsewhere.

  • Advances in technology must provide an additional ‘augmentation’ avenue to help the slow-learner child makeup for the lost ground.

  • Simultaneously other significant areas such as teacher training, quality and accountability mechanisms must be improved in a holistic manner.

6. New Initiatives Under Swachh Bharat Mission (U)

6.1. Swachh Survekshan 2019

  • This fourth edition Swachh Survekshan 2019 aims to increase the coverage of the ranking exercise to all cities under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban. (Swachh Survekshan 2018 ranked 4,203 Cities.)

  • The distinctive features of the survey includes encouraging large scale citizen participation, ensuring sustainability of initiatives taken towards garbage free and open defecation free cities, providing credible outcomes which would be validated by third party certification etc.

  • Data will be collected from 4 broad sources – ‘Service Level Progress’, Direct Observation, Citizens Feedback and Certification(newly introduced). Certification will done on two different components- o Star Rating of Garbage Free Cities (20% weightage of marks)- It includes components such as cleanliness of drains & water bodies, plastic waste management, managing construction & demolition waste, etc. which are critical drivers for achieving garbage free cities.

  • Open Defecation Free Protocols (5% weightage)

Including Public Urination in New Protocol

  • This is the first time that the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) is officially including the elimination of public urination in its agenda.

  • The Mission is focussed on infrastructure and regulatory changes, on the assumption that this will lead to behaviour change. It is believed that in the case of urban areas, the problem is not one of usage, but of availability.

  • In cities, if toilets are available, accessible and clean, people will automatically use them rather than using the road. However, some have criticised this pointing out that public urination, especially by men, is almost entirely a behaviour change issue and it is currently impractical to include urination.

6.2. SBM ODF+ and ODF++ Protocol

  • The original ODF protocol, issued in March 2016, said, “A city/ward is notified as ODF city/ward if, at any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating in the open. With 18 states / UTs and 3,223 cities declared ODF. The ODF+ and ODF++ protocols are the next step for the SBM-U and aim to ensure sustainability in sanitation outcomes.

  • The ODF+ protocol says that a city, ward or work circle could be declared ODF+ if, “at any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating and/or urinating in the open, and all community and public toilets are functional and well-maintained.”

  • The ODF++ protocol adds the condition that “faecal sludge/septage and sewage is safely managed and treated, with no discharging and/or dumping of untreated faecal sludge/septage and sewage in drains, water bodies or open areas.”

  • Thus, the SBM ODF+ protocol focuses on sustaining community/ public toilet usage by ensuring their functionality, cleanliness and maintenance while SBM ODF++ will focus on achieving sanitation sustainability by addressing complete sanitation value chain, including safe containment, processing and disposal of faecal sludge and septage.

6.3. Swachh Manch web portal

  • It is a web-based platform which aims to bring together every stakeholder contributing to the Swachh Bharat Mission under a common platform. It will allow stakeholders to create/invite/participate in volunteering opportunities around neighborhoods.

  • It will enable uploads of pictorial evidence of citizens and organizations participating in the initiatives, as well as record the number of hours volunteered, as acknowledgement of citizens’/organisations’ efforts and contributions to the cause of ‘swachhata’.

  • The Swachh Manch will also be integrated with the existing Swachhata App to act as a citizens’ grievance redressal platform.

7. Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana

Background

  • This scheme was earlier announced in 2018 budget speech as PM Jan Arogya Abhiyan within the umbrella scheme of Ayushman Bharat (National Health Protection Mission).

  • A miniature version of this scheme is already going on in Telangana from years. The entire IT platform used for this scheme will be outsourced from there.

7.1. PMJAY and Data Protection

  • Since the scheme is based on Aadhar, several recommendations of Srikrishna Committee has been incorporated and Right to Privacy has been kept intact.

  • The scheme will have its own Data Privacy Policy (Psudonymisation, anonymistaion and data minimisation, etc. will be done along with encryption, firewalls, etc. at various level).

  • Digital health data will not be disclosed for commercial purposes, or to insurers, employers, or pharma companies.

7.2. More about the PMJAY

  • National Health Agency will be its implementing authority.

  • There will be a provision of Rs 5 lakh per annum as health assurance (no premium to be paid by beneficiary) for each family and free of cost treatment for serious diseases.

  • The cashless benefits can be availed from any public or private empaneled hospital across India. However, the payment will be done on Package rate basis (involving secondary and tertiary care) defined by Government.

  • This will be the world’s largest government-sponsored healthcare scheme (10 Crore family or 50 Crore people) covering a population the size of the US, Canada and Mexico.

  • People in SECC will get automatically enrolled in this scheme.

  • States are free to choose the mode of implementation, which could either be insurance-based, trust-route or mixed model.

  • Benefits of the scheme: It will provide good quality, affordable healthcare to all, new infrastructure in tier II and III cities will reduce regional disparity, role of middle men and money lender will decrease and employment opportunities will be created in health and IT sector. It will be a Rights based approach and will help migrant communities as well.

  • People will have right to request access to copies of their personal data, information on the processing activities carried out with it, request restriction of access or even withdraw consent.

Challenges

  • Smooth coordination between Centre and State will be required.

  • Smooth coordination between ministries and various schemes will also be required e.g. National Skill Development Corporation and National Health Agency has recently signed an MoU for skill development of Arogyamitras under PMJAY.

  • States will have to develop a robust IT System. Only Six States have the administrative and technological capacity to implement this scheme now.

  • Data Privacy is an emerging concept, and therefore the system will have to evolve

7.3 Related Information - Aarogyamitras:

  • Literally the word means Friends of Health.

  • They will act as interface between the beneficiaries of this scheme and the system.

  • NSDC will skill them in terms of behavior, knowledge and presentation.

  • NSDC will use its network of PM Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) under PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).

  • They will also be certified by Health Care Sector Skill Council (non-statutory body for health sector under NSDC). accordance with the development in technology and use/disclosure of data to private sector will require strict regulation.

  • The system is based on Artificial Intelligence. Therefore, an ethical algorithm will be required so that the system does not discriminate on the basis of religion, caste, class, sex, etc.

  • For details about Ayushman Bharat and NHA, kindly refer to February, 2018 current affairs magazine of Vision IAS.

8. Scheme for pharmacovigilance of ayush drugs

8.1. About pharmacovigilance

  • It is defined as the science and activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects or any other drug-related problem.

8.2. Need for Pharmacovigilance

  • Quality issues and safety concerns of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy Drugs raised from various sources.

  • For Public Health, it is necessary to oversee the impact of ASU&H Drugs and detect potentially unsafe drugs.

  • Requirement of regulating the publicizing of improper drug information in the form advertisements.

  • To ensure usage with prescription and under supervision of a qualified medical practitioner.

  • To prevent consumption of these drugs as over the counter drug

  • To conduct premarketing safety evaluation as well as post marketing surveillance.

  • Ministry of AYUSH has introduced new Central Sector scheme for promoting pharmacovigilance of AYUSH Drugs.

8.3. About the scheme

  • Objective: To develop the culture of documenting adverse effects & undertake safety monitoring of AYUSH drugs.

  • It will undertake surveillance of misleading advertisements appearing in the print and electronic media.

  • It intends to facilitate the establishment of three-tier network of National Pharmacovigilance Centre (NPvCC), Intermediary Pharmacovigilance Centres (IPvCCs) and Peripheral Pharmacovigilance Centres (PPvCC) to take up the work of reporting, documentation, analysis, causality assessment of the adverse reactions and events associated with the consumption of AYUSH drugs.

  • All India Institute of Ayurveda, an autonomous body under the Ministry of AYUSH, has been designated as National Pharmacovigilance Centre for coordinating various activities of the initiative.

  • The scheme also aims to achieve the target of 100 peripheral pharmacovigilance centres by 2020.

  • Representatives of Central Drug Standards Control Organisation as the national drug regulatory authority and the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission being the WHO Collaborating Centre for Pharmacovigilance in the country are associated in the initiative as mentor and guide.

August Indian Society and Issues

bottom of page