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1. Hand Holding Elderly

  • The objective social security systems that exist in the MDCs. The economic feasibility of social security at a comparable level is a vital constraint in LDCs. In India, the citizens above the age of 60 years are defined as elderly. Of all the social sections, elderly are one of the most vulnerable section and in dire need of social security measures.  Since old age comes with deterioration of health and lack of ability to earn a livelihood, elderly are in need of –

  • Food Security

  • Health/Recreation facilities

  • Residential security

  • Income Security/ Pension

  • Aids and Assisted living devices

  • Among the elderly, the poor ones or those who have been working in the informal sector and the women are more vulnerable and require special attention.

 

1.1. Elderly Social Protection/security

  • Socio-economic and cultural changes like

  • Disintegration of Joint Family system which was earlier responsible for taking care of elderly.

  • Increased participation of women in work has led to lack of caregivers at home for elderly.

  • Enhanced mobility and migration of youth for work opportunities along-with more individualistic attitude of the youth means that the elderly are living alone and are in need of social assistance.

  • Increased longevity of the elderly due to advancement in medical field means that they are in need of social assistance long after they stop earning.

  • Due to presence of vast informal/unorganised sector in India, most of the elderly does not have subscription to any formal pension/income generating system that can provide them resources to meet their daily needs.

 

Existing Government Initiatives for pension

1. IGNOAPS (Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme)

  • Available to elderly from BPL category

  • Pension is rupees 200 for 60-79 years old and 500 for above 80

  • Beneficiaries are identified by gram panchayats (there is a ceiling of 50% of BPL category )

 

2. IGNWPS (Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme)

  • Pension of rupees 200 per month to widows

  • Available to BPL Widows aged 40-59 (after age of 60 they qualify for IGNOAPS)

 

1.2. Analysis of  schemes

  • As per a survey, the awareness about both these schemes is as high as 80% among the elderly, but hardly 15-20% of the eligible elderly citizens have availed these schemes.

 

Reasons for low utilisation-

  • Difficulties faced by poor people in providing the relevant documents like age proof, proof of BPL etc. This has led to emergence of middlemen, bribery, corruption and caste favoritism.Problems regarding accuracy of the data leading to fraud and fake cases (unwanted inclusion and exclusion problems).Long waiting period due to delays in release of payments.Inadequate pension amount (For instance, Bolivia with a per capita GDP about 40% higher than that of India pays a pension of about 1500 rupees per month. Lesotho, with a per capita GDP that is about two-third that of India’s, pays 2300 rupees per month. And Kenya with just half the per capita GDP of India pays over 1250 rupees per month. Even Nepal, with per capita GDP about one third that of India’s, pays a pension of 313 rupees per month to its elderly.)

 

Extent of the problem in India

  • As per 2011 census, there were 104 million elderly in India and they are expected to cross 173 million by 2026 .Alongwith, rising elderly the decline in fertility rates means that the number of persons in working age are on a decline that means the potential support ratio (number of working age population (15-59 years) to the number of elderly) is declining. 45% of elderly belong to BPL category.Elderly women are more vulnerable compared to men due to lack of income, assets and early widowhood.

 

Universal Pension scheme for elderly Peoples

  • Pension Parishad (a NGO/Civil Society organization fighting for the rights of elderly in India) demanded a Universal and Non Contributory Old Age Pension by the government with a minimum amount of monthly pension not less than 50% of minimum wage or Rs 2000/- per month, whichever is higher available to all men aged 55+ and women aged 50+.

  • Individuals whose income is higher than the threshold level for payment of income tax and individuals who are receiving pension from any other sources that exceeds the pension amount under the Universal Old Age Pension Programme should be excluded from the scheme.

  • But such a scheme will be fiscally unsustainable and the government in order to generate funds could increase the taxes which could prove counterproductive. Also, it could lead to inflationary pressure on the economy. Apart from it,there will be a problem in highlighting those who are to be excluded.

  • Pension Parishad suggests that a cess could be levied on industries/ sectors where unorganized workers have contributed directly or indirectly. This could be an important source of funding and would cover a significant proportion of the amounts needed to provide pensions in the manner suggested above.Other government initiatives (not all these schemes are specifically for elderly but all are having provisions for elderly)

  • A pension scheme focussed on unorganised sector to bring them under the National Pension Atal Pension Scheme (APS) System.

  • Age limit – 18 – 40 years.

  • Contribution period – 20 years or more.

  • Regulated by Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), which comes under Department of Financial Services, Government of India.

  • The subscribers of Atal Pension Yojana can receive a fixed monthly pension starting from Rs. 1000 up to Rs. 5000 after their retirement age of 60 until death.

  • To encourage more and more people to enroll into Atal Pension Yojana scheme, the GOI is also contributing a sum towards the pension scheme for a time period of five years i.e. 2015-2020.

  • It replaces the Swavalamban Scheme which did not cover many people due to ambiguities in benefits after 60.

 

Jan Suraksha Bima Yojana

  • To provide accident insurance. (Age Group – 18 – 70) Can be availed by paying annual premium of Rs. 12 only. Linked to Pradhan Mantri Jan DhanYojana.For accidents leading to death or full disability Rs. 2 lakh are paid.

 

Jan Dhan Yojana

  • For easy affordable access to different financial services such as need based credit, insurance, remittances, overdraft facility, etc. Accounts are opened with zero balance.Provides for accident insurance cover of Rs. 1 lakh and life insurance cover of Rs. 30k payable after death.

 

Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana

  • Provides a life insurance policy.(Age group – 18-50 years) A premium of Rs. 330 to be paid every year.

 

Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana

  • To provide senior citizens belonging to BPL category and suffering from any age related disability/infirmity like low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth, locomotor disability, etc., with such assisted living devices, which can help them in overcoming the disability/infirmity manifested.

  • Under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

  • Aids and Assisted-Living Devices like walking sticks, wheel chairs, hearing aids, etc. were distributed recently under this scheme to around 1300 senior citizens.

 

Skill for Life, Save a Life Initiative

  • In India a life is lost every 4 minutes due to road accidents and measures taken in first 10 minutes can save a life. Skill for Life, Save a Life InitiativeLaunched by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Its Aims to upscale the quantity and quality of trained professionals in the health care system (including geriatric care).As part of this program the First Responder course for professionals as well as general public to empower every single citizen of the country to be the first person to provide first aid and initial care in case of emergency.

 

1.3. NATIONAL PENSION SCHEME

  • Pension system (also known as provident funds or superannuation funds or retirement benefits) could be regarded as a security for the life's second innings. Pension or old age income provision is an important component of the social safety net. It provides a mechanism to alleviate or reduce the risk of old age poverty and a means to smoothen lifetime sustenance to maintain living standard after retirement.

  • Traditionally, old age income security in India has been provided by the joint family system, which, until sometime back, was ingrained in its ethos. However, the traditional family support system is gradually disintegrating due to

  • occupational changes (from collective occupations like farming to more individual occupations)

  • urbanization

  • Emergence of nuclear families

  • Further, both the birth and death rates are gradually declining and with the advancement in medical sciences and increase in income levels, the life expectancy is increasing and people are living longer and spending more years post retirement than what it used to be a few decades ago.

  • This all highlights the need for a Pension system for the elderly.

  • Features of a good pension system

  • Affordable to subscribers

  • Fiscally efficient

  • Economically sustainable

  • Dynamic as per the changing demography

  • Widest possible coverage with suitable exclusion criteria

  • Covers informal and unorganised sector

  • Offers substantial/adequate benefits/returns to subscribers

 

Evolution of pension system in India

  • Pension systems have historically been confined to the organized workers mainly in government services, public sector organizations and some large enterprises in the private sector.

  • The Indian pension landscape prior to the pension reform in 2004 comprised of the following pension plans -

  • 1.Tax funded social pensions to provide minimum level of protection to the people below poverty line and above 60 years of age, disabled or widows under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP).

  • 2. The Central Civil Services Pension Scheme 1972 which is a defined benefit pension scheme on pay- as-you-go basis for employees who joined central government service before 2004. Similar schemes exist for employees of state governments and many public sector undertakings. (When employers offer a pension plan, they can plan for the anticipated financial requirements of the pension plan and set aside a certain amount of money on a regular basis - and invest the money to ideally grow the fund. Conversely, certain employers elect to fund the pension plan out of current earnings. This is a pay-as-you-go unfunded pension plan, and the future of such plans can often be put in danger by unexpected events.)

  • 3.Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) administered by Employee’s Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) for the notified establishments both in public and private sector employing 20 or more employees, EPF and Miscellaneous Act, 1952.

  • 4. Statutory occupational Provident Funds like the Coal Mines PF, Seamen’s PF, Assam Tea Plantations PF, etc.

  • 5. Superannuation/ retirement pension plans offered by life insurance companies and mutual funds and the Public Provident Fund offered by Government of India through banks and post offices, which any individual can join on voluntary basis and are primarily driven by tax incentive/ deductions for contribution.

  • The need for pension reform in India was driven by - (i) the budgetary strain of civil services unfunded, defined benefit, pay as you go pension system on the one hand and (ii) the need to expand the coverage of old age income security to the vast unorganized sector which accounts for over 84 per cent of the working population.

  • India made a conscious move to shift from the defined benefit pay-as-you-go unfunded pension system to defined contribution funded pension system initially called the New Pension Scheme now renamed as National Pension System (NPS).

 

Features of NPS

  • National Pension System (NPS) is a defined contribution pension system administered and regulated by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).

  • Now, NPS is available to all Indian citizens between 18 to 60 years of age to make systematic investments during their active working life so as to draw pension post retirement.

  • NPS is mandatory for government employees, 10 per cent of their pay (basic salary plus dearness allowance) and an equal amount by the employer is credited to the pension account called Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN) of the employee.

  • Persons who join NPS on voluntary basis can invest a minimum of Rs. 1000 every year, which can be increased, based on one’s income level.

  • The accumulations are invested as per the investment guidelines prescribed by PFRDA in the diversified pool of financial assets comprising government securities, corporate debentures/ bonds and equity shares of well-established companies. (The subscriber has an option to select the pension fund and decide the broad investment mix (equity, corporate bonds/ debentures, government securities) as per his risk appetite)

  • The NPS has an unbundled architecture where different activities such as sourcing and registration of subscribers, collection of the periodic pension subscription, maintenance of the records of individual subscribers, pooling of subscribers funds, deployment of the funds in financial securities in financial markets, maintenance of record of securities, provision of periodic pension / annuities etc., are entrusted with different entities.

  • The Central Recordkeeping Agency (CRA) does the record keeping of the data of individual subscribers and coordinates among the different functionaries in the NPS. The CRA issues the unique Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN) to each subscriber, maintains database of all PRANs issued and records transactions relating to each subscriber’s PRAN, acting as the operational interface between the NPS Trust and other NPS intermediaries such as the government nodal offices, PAOs, DDOs, POPs, Aggregators, Retirement Advisors, Trustee Bank, Pension Funds, Custodian, Annuity Service Providers and the subscriber. Centralized record keeping for the NPS ensures that the individual pension account is completely portable across the geographical locations in the country, professions and employment.

  • On superannuation or attaining the age of 60, the subscriber has to annuties a minimum of 40 per cent of the accumulated balance in his PRAN for the periodic pension and the remaining 60 per cent can be withdrawn in lump sum. 40 per cent of the total accumulated balance withdrawn as lump sum is tax exempt.

  • In the unfortunate event of death of the subscriber at any time before superannuation or attaining the age of 60, the nominee has an option to receive the entire accumulated balance in lump sum without payment of any tax thereon.

  • NPS is available to NRIs as well both on repatriable and non-repatriable basis.

 

Advantages of investing in NPS

  • The subscriber has an option to select the pension fund and decide the broad investment mix (equity, corporate bonds/ debentures, government securities) as per his risk appetite

  • There are tax benefits available to subscribers under the Section 80 of Income Tax Act

  • The costs of investing in the National Pension System comprising of account opening and remittance charges of POPs, account maintenance and transaction charges of the CRA, Investment Management Fee of Pension Funds, Assets Maintenance charges of Custodian and the service charges of the NPS Trust, all put together, work out to less than 0.5 per cent of the assets under management which are the lowest as compared to the fees and charges on competing retirement products of insurance companies and mutual funds (this means more returns to subscribers)

  • The average annual return for subscribers has consistently been over 10% which is higher than comparable pension programmers.

 

2. Health For All

  • "Health for all" was the Goal adopted by WHO in the 1970s. Health is one of the most crucial indicators of social development of a country and health related schemes have always been part of social security system for most of the countries.

  • The prevention of disease, diagnosis, treatment of illness, injury in human beings form the subject matter of health care.

  • Health care delivery includes providing primary care, secondary care and tertiary care.

  • Primary Health Care (PHC) - They are the basic first level of contact between individuals and families with the health system. The general practitioners, the family physician, the physiotherapist are the usual primary health care providers. Immunisation, basic curative care services, maternal and child health services, prevention of diseases are the type of services provided by PHC's. Family planning, health education, provision of food and nutrition and adequate supply of safe drinking water may also be included in their services.

  • In India, a network of sub centres and PHC's work in rural areas to provide primary health care. Family welfare centres provide such services in the urban areas. The staff in a PHC includes a medical officer, a staff nurse, the pharmacist and other paramedical support staff. ASHAs and ANMs (Auxilliary Nurse Mid-wives) are also part of PHC.

  • Secondary Health Centre: Health care services, at such centres are provided by medical specialists. They may not have first contact with patients. Depending on the policies of the National Health System, patients may access these services through physician referral or self referral.

  • Secondary health care providers include cardiologists, urologists, dermatologists and other such specialists. The health care services include acute care, short period stay in a hospital emergency department for brief but serious illness.

  • There may be secondary care providers who do not work in hospitals - psychiatrists, physiotherapists, respiratory therapists, speech therapists and so on.

  • In India, the District Hospitals and Community Health Centres at the block level are examples of Secondary Health Centres within the public health system.

  • Tertiary Health Centre: This is a specialised consultative health care for inpatients. The patients are admitted into these centres on a referral from primary or secondary health professionals. Tertiary health care is provided in a facility that have personnel and facilities for advanced medical investigation and treatment. Services provided include cancer management, neurosurgery, cardiac surgery and a host of complex medical and surgical interventions. Advanced diagnostic support services and specialised intensive care which cannot be provided by primary and secondary health centres are available at the tertiary health centres.

  • In India tertiary care services under the public health system, is provided by medical colleges and advanced medical research institutes.

 

2.1. "Health for All - The need for Universal Healthcare in India

  • The World Health Organisation estimated that in 2008, 5.2 Million Indians died of non-communicable diseases which accounted For 53 per cent of all deaths in the country. In 2015, health inequality resulted in a loss of 24 per cent of India's health index value as per the Inequality adjust Human Development Index computed by the UNDP.

  • India's health system mirrors the iniquitous nature of development that has taken place in the country. High income and wealth inequality has resulted in a skewed pattern of health care oriented toward secondary tertiary level curative services, leading to neglected of the more basic preventive and primary care services needed for the poor to survive.

  • Health security is linked inextricably with the notion of universal health care and received prime importance following the Alma Ata Declaration in 1978 to achieve health for all by 2000. This 1978 conference focused on the importance of Primary Health Care as a basic step towards achievement of 'Health For All'.

  • National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was initiated in 2005 to revitalize the primary health care system in the country. Despite these policy initiatives, universal health coverage remains an unfinished agenda with basic indicators of health in India continuing to be below those of low income countries such as Bangladesh and crucial health millennium Development Goals (MDGs) being missed.

  • Further, low Political commitment to ensuring basic primary and preventive health care has meant that unlike education, Health for all has never been an important electoral issue.

  • The general political apathy towards the health sector is also reflected in low budgetary allocations, with the public spending accounting for not more than 1.5 % of GDP over the last decades despite impressive economic growth. This has meant that 75% of the health care costs are financed by out of the pocket expenses and catastrophic health expanses regularly push a large number below the poverty line.

  • In India, annually an estimated 63 million people fall into poverty due to health related Out of Pocket Expenditures (OOPE). People who are already below poverty line, go deeper into poverty. In other words, health related expenditure and lack of universal health coverage is undoing all social security efforts including efforts targeted for poverty reduction in the country.

 

2.2. Health insurance in India

  • Countries such as Brazil, Bolivia, Indonesia and Thailand, all characterised earlier by the situation of high inequality and uneven access to health care system, have revamped policies since the 1980s towards universal health care. The 30 baht scheme in Thailand, decentralization reforms and social health insurance in Indonesia, and the unified health system in Brazil provide examples of how countries have addressed basic health requirement of These examples indicate that strengthening of the primary health care system is a prerequisite for achieving universal health coverage.

  • Health Insurance in India began with Employment state Insurance Scheme (ESIS) and the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) that cater to government employees and their dependants. these schemes focus on high end secondary and tertiary care and together .provide protection to less than 10% of India's population working in public sector undertakings.

  • A Conditional cash transfer scheme transfer scheme Janani Suraksha Yojna (JSY) was introduced in 2005 to encourage institutional deliveries among poor women in rural areas.

 

Rashtriya Swasthiya Bima Yojna (RSBY), 2008

  • Aims to provide financial protection against catastrophic health expenditure for vulnerable groups and ensure better access to quality health care for people below the poverty line and vulnerable groups in the informal sector such as rickshaw puller and rag pickers.

  • The scheme provides a coverage of Rs. 30000 in case of hospital based inpatient care, on an annual registration fee of Rs. 30 by the beneficiary for the family. (The coverage limit has recently been enhanced to one lack rupees.)

 

Evaluating RSBY

  • RSBY coverage as on end march 2016 was 41.3 million families out of an eligible 72.8 million families out of an eligible 72.8 million families.

  • Total hospitalization cases however were only 11.8 million pointing to low utilization of the scheme .

  • Further, evidence from the field indicates that one of the main desired outcomes of the RSBY, to reduce the financial burden of health expenditure among the poor, may not have been realized and out of pocket (OOP) expenditures have not diminished owning to payment for drugs and diagnostics and other inpatient services not covered by RSBY, additional transport expenses and the like.

  • The RSBY performance is better in states such as Kerala, that have built a good health care infrastructure.

  • Can the new National Health Policy, 2017 address the challenges of Healthcare in India

  • In the new policy, the government aims in shifting focus from “sick-care” to “wellness”, by promoting prevention and well-being. This will shift focus on the preventive side of Healthcare, which will address preventable sickness and diseases in India.

  • It intends on gradually increasing public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP. The enhanced funding will be used to strengthen health systems by ensuring everyone has access to quality services and technology despite financial barriers. The policy proposes increasing access, improving quality and reducing costs. It proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency and essential healthcare services in public hospitals. This is a step towards universalisation of Healthcare in India.

  • To focus on primary health care: The policy advocates allocating two-thirds (or more) of resources to primary care. It proposes two beds per 1,000 of the population to enable access within the golden hour (the first 60 minutes after a traumatic injury).

  • To reduce morbidity and preventable mortality of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by advocating pre-screening.

  • In order to achieve its objectives, the Policy aims at roping in Private Sector through Public Private Partnerships. Though a welcome move, it must be carried out cautiously so that private sector is held accountable for all the duties assigned to it. A watch must be kept to ensure that it does not enrich itself at the cost of liberal public subsidies.

  • International experience shows that the objective of "Health for All" can be achieved only when basic health infrastructure is in place and this is a function that the government alone can perform.

 

3. Prioritising Agriculture To Nutrition Pathways

3.1. Nutrition

  • Nutrition is an important factor that determines status of health of an individual and the community. India has highest prevalence of undernourished children in world with almost 35-40% children underweight and stunted.

  • Under-nutrition affects health, immunity, cognitive abilities etc. and prevents children from realising their full potential.

  • Experts argue that India is suffering from the so called 'triple burden of malnutrition' which includes -

  • Food insecurity

  • Under nutrition

  • Overweight and Obesity

 

Reason for malnutrition

  • Even though India has attained high production levels of food grains, there are certain problems that contribute to the problem of malnutrition in India -

  • Food security consists not just of production but also of distribution and adequate consumption. The Public Distribution System of India is marked by deficiencies like leakages, corruption etc. leading to poor delivery.

  • Inadequate consumption even after availability depends on lack of knowledge and information on proper dietary intakes also contributes to the problem of malnutrition

  • Focus on food-grains only instead of a diversified food basket that includes pulses, fruits, eggs etc.

  • Problems like diarrhea etc prevents absorption of nutrients in body thereby contributing to malnutrition

 

Way forward

  • Diet Diversity -The government should immediately promote the consumption of a diverse diet. The Indian Food Pyramid conceptualized by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) was beyond the comprehension of the masses. We need to work out some simple yet catchy promotion mechanism to educate the masses. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture, promotes a colourful plate concept easy to understand from toddlers to adults. The colours signify the composition of food items in the plate every day. The colours pertain to the different food groups like cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables, meat, etc

  • Decentralisation - A top-down approach has never been successful given the diversity of food production, consumption and preparation in the country. Utter importance should be paid to the culture and local food habits, and those that improve nutritional status.

  • Education of women - Women empowerment is important in this context. Older women are generally the decision makers in the household, and they should be more educated to promote the consumption of a diverse diet

  • Updating the Food Component of the Poverty Line- Both the Tendulkar and Rangarajan Committee recognized the importance of nutrients other than calories, and incorporated the same in the computation of the poverty line. What is proposed is a new measure of diet diversity called the Healthy Eating Index for India. It would help identify the food poor households in terms of their consumption of a diverse basket. This index could be useful for identification of those consuming a less diverse diet for not only the vegetarian but also the non-vegetarian households.

  • Digital Solutions - Digital solutions like Aadhaar, Jan Dhan Yojana etc can be used for more targeted and efficient delivery. Cash transfers instead of food-grains can promote a more nutritious and diverse diet consumption. Also, these could be used to track the health status of the poor. (Such a strategy has been implemented in the interiors of Mongolia where households are continuously monitored to lift them out of poverty (not only income, but also food and health poverty) permanently.)

  • Affluence and Obesity - Other than malnutrition, India is also suffering from high rates of obesity and micronutrient deficiency diseases. The middle and rich are prone to the latter. Reasons being

  • fast pace of urbanization

  • lifestyle

  • easy availability of fatty and oily products

  • excessive marketing of the same

  • So, informing the wealthy is also required. In a sense they need to understand that they are taxing themselves by welcoming a plethora of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart attack, etc. Government intervention should be in the form of taxing fatty food products and supermarkets that encourage consumption of unhealthy food items.

 

The Mid- Day Meal Programme

  • The links between Social security and education, while well established, are complex as they run in both directions. To access education, children of vulnerable backgrounds, require some form of social security, but education itself is a form of social security against future vulnerabilities.

  • Social security provision for education includes enabling condition for children from socially and economically deprived families to come to school and persist through the education cycle. These range from

  • making school physically available closer to habitations ,

  • scholarships and other forms of financial incentives,

  • School meals,

  • School health plans

  • In India, all of the above, have been part of the government's education policies and programmes, albeit in varying degrees and with varying quality and success. The midday meal programme however, is perhaps the most widely acknowledged best- run social security programme of the government of India for school children.

  • Given India's record on hunger and malnutrition, especially among the children's, the idea of introducing mid day meals in schools thus addresses the twin objectives of improving nutrition, as well as enabling children to come to school and remain there through the day.

  • In fact, mid day meals in schools serve multiple important objectives. Research across the world has established that School meals reduce hunger and malnutrition, increase enrolment, and attendance and improve learning outcomes.

  • Most countries, advanced as well as developing, have some sort of a school meal programmme. In India, the provision of hot cooked meal in schools has a long history starting with Tamil Nadu universalizing the noon meal scheme in 1982, with the Supreme Court making a hot-cooked meal in all government schools a legal entitlement across the country, in 2001. The mid day meal is the first meal of the day for a number of children.

 

Features of the mid-day meal scheme of India

  • The programme supplies free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government aided, local body, Education Guarantee Scheme, and alternate innovative education centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and National Child Labour Project schools run by the ministry of labour.

  • Currently, the mid day meal programme in India covers more than 10 crore children across 11.5 lakh schools.

  • More than 25 lack women mainly from SC/ST /OBC communities are employed as mid day meal cooks and helper in schools.

 

Social and other benefits arising from the mid-day meal scheme

  • Improvement in nutritional standards of the children

  • Improvement in enrolment ratio as well as learning outcomes (as cognition is directly related to health)

  • Further, it has had other social benefits such as inculcating the practice of all children irrespective of social background eating together,

  • Involvement of the local community in monitoring the meals and thus increased parental engagement in schools

  • In some cases local produce is to be used in the meals thereby impacting local economy

  • Providing employment to women as cooks, helpers etc.

 

Issues associated with the mid-day-meal

  • There are gaps in the delivery mechanism, such as irregularity in supply, poor hygiene and infrastructure, inadequate nutritional content of meals etc.

  • Difficulties in estimating exact number of children using MDMS, etc.

  • Some have also pointed that far too much time is spent by teachers in organizing the MDM(mid-day-meal) taking away from their core duties of teaching and

  • That children come to school only for the food, leaving soon after it is served, thus not meeting their educational requirements.

  • In addition, reports of discrimination on the basic of caste- such as Dalit children being asked to eat separately or not being provided sufficient quantities of food- have been noted too.

 

Using Biometrics - an evaluation

  • Recently the government mandated the use of Aadhaar for mid-day meals in schools. The Use of Aadhaar as identity document for delivery of services or benefits or subsidies simplifies the government delivery processes, bring in transparency and efficiency.

  • It is supposed to weed out ghost beneficiaries and ensure economy in the scheme. Also it will prevent the misuse of funds by organisers in the name of ghost beneficiaries.

  • Additionally the move will ensure that the students who are not yet enrolled for Aadhaar will be enrolled so that they can reap other associated benefits as well.

 

Problems

  • The UID with scores of children without an Adhaar card, what this implies is that the simplification sought will be in the form of limiting the number of children that can access MDMs, rather than improve access.

  • The move does not affect the irregularities in supply poor hygiene and infrastructure or inadequate nutritional content of meals.

  • Also, it amounts to violation of right to opt for Aadhaar as children are not mature enough to make a conscious decision of getting involved in biometric programme that might compromise on their privacy.

  • While mandating Aadhaar is good move, it should be ensured that it is made mandatory only once all the students have been enrolled under Aadhaar. Meanwhile, there are known techniques to increase accountability in mid day meals such as through programmes of community monitoring, social audits, decentralized grievance redress systems, Public display of information on beneficiaries and menu, etc.

  • Other latest initiatives in the field of education

 

3.2. Expansion Of Education Facilities

  • 10 AIIMS to be set up in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Poorvanchal in UP, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Bihar.

  • Increase in Medical Seats for both Under Graduate (UG) and Post Graduate (PG)courses.

  • Under- Graduate Seats increased From 54,348 in 2014-15 to 65183 in 2016-17

  • Medical Post- Graduation seats increased from 25,346 in 2014-15 to 36,703 in 2017-18.

 

ISHAN UDAY

  • Special Scholarship Scheme for Promotion of Higher Education in North Eastern Region (NER).

  • Scholarship of Rs 5, 400/- Per month for General Degree courses; rs 7,800/- Per month for technical and Professional degree Courses .10,000 Candidates selected under the scheme for NER

 

RESEARCH & QUALITY_-HIGHER EDUCATION

  • 600 startups of students stared in 44 campuses with 5 year incubation period .258 research projects worth Rs 596 crore approved in unique scheme IMPRINT (Impacting Research Innovation and Technology )Interested subsidy on education loan offered to 4.4 lakh students worth Rs 2,290 crore in last 3 years

 

SANKALP

  • SANKALP to provide market relevant training to 3.5 crore youth

 

SWAYAM

  • Free online virtual learning platform created for students to enable "Any-Time, Any-Where" learning Course content from school learning to post graduate learning to be available on this platform along with mobile apps.

 

4. Empowering The Differently Abled

  • India has one of the largest disabled population in the world. As per census 2011, the percentage of disabled is 2.21% and majority of them live in rural areas. Persons with disability are more vulnerable to exclusion from the socio-economic domains as they have poor access to infrastructure, education and skill development.

  • Traditionally informal security system of family in India has been impacted due to industrial revolution, modernization and urbanization and job opportunities in cities, individualistic attitude of children, etc. This necessitates the state to take steps for social security.

  • Also, India is a party to UN Convention on 'Rights of persons with disabilities'. Parties to the Convention are required to promote, protect, and ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities and ensure that they enjoy full equality under the law. The Convention has served as the major catalyst in the global movement from viewing persons with disabilities as objects of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing them as full and equal members of society, with human rights. Hence, Indian social security system has specific schemes for the Disabled/differently-abled.

 

4.1. Constitutional Provisions for differently abled/disabled

  • Art 41 of the Indian Constitution speaks of State’s responsibility to provide social security to citizens of this country. It states that the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provisions for securing the right to work, to education, and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement.

 

Act/ Legal provisions for differently abled/disabled

  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 has provision of preventive social security measures such as pre-natal and post-natal care for the mother and child, mentions unemployment allowance and insurance, and supports the rights of disabled people and so on. Key features of the Act are-

  • Reservation in vacancies in government establishments has been increased from 3% to 4% for certain persons or class of persons with benchmark disability.

  • Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.

  • District level committees will be constituted by the State Governments to address local concerns of PwDs (persons with disabilities).

  • Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of PwDs.

  • Broad-based Central & State Advisory Boards on Disability are to be set up to serve as apex policy-making bodies at the Central and State level.

  • Office of Chief Commissioner and those of the State Commissioners of Persons with Disabilities has been strengthened.

  • The Act says that any person who “intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a person with a disability in any place within public view” is punishable with imprisonment.

  • Other Benefits/ Schemes for differently abled by government of India

  • 1.Tax: Persons with disabilities and their legal guardians are eligible for income tax deduction.

  • 2.Education:

  • Provided 4% reservation in government and government aided educational institutions.

  • Financial assistance is provided for procuring computer for students with visual impairment/ hearing impairment for pursuing graduation and post-graduation.

  • National Scholarship for students with disabilities. Criteria: 40% disability and family monthly income should not exceed 15000 rupees.

  • Comprehensive Education Scheme for Disabled Children: The scheme provide for accessible and barrier free built-in-infrastructure and transport facilities, supply of books, special learning aids and scholarships for students with disabilities.

  • Extra time in examinations for disabled students, exemption from third language and modification of curriculum for inclusive education.

  • Inclusive Education for the Disabled at Secondary Stage (IEDSS) – This scheme supports children with disabilities aged 14 or above for completing their secondary education from class 9 to 12 in government aided schools.

  • Rajiv Gandhi Fellowship Scheme: Provides scholarships to persons with disabilities to pursue higher education such as M Phil/ Ph D for five years. Cover all universities and institutions under UGC (University Grant Commission).

  • 3.Employment:

  • Government has reserved 5% posts in Group A, B, C and D positions in government PSUs, PSBs and services for persons with disabilities.

  • Persons with disabilities are given age relaxation for recruitment in government positions.

  • They exempted from payment of application and examination fees.

  • Persons with disabilities are given preference in postings nearest to their native places.

  • Government has established special employment exchanges and special employment cells for recruitments to government posts reserved for persons with disabilities. However, they need to require register themselves with these first.

  • In private sector, the government provides incentives to employers for employment of persons with disabilities. For instance, the government pays the employer’s contribution of the disabled employee’s provident fund.

  • Under the ‘Scheme for Public Sector Banks for Orphanages, Women’s Homes and Physically Handicapped Persons’, the benefits of the differential rate of interest are available to physically disabled persons as well as institutions working for the welfare of the disabled people.

  • 4.Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP Scheme) – The main objective of the scheme is to assist needy persons with disabilities in procuring durable sophisticated and scientifically manufactured aid and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation.

  • 5.Indira AwaasYojana - It is a centrally sponsored housing scheme for providing dwelling units free of cost to rural poor living below the poverty line at a unit coat of Rs.20,000 in plains and Rs.22,000 in the hill/difficult areas. Three percent of its funds are reserved for the benefit of disabled persons living below of the poverty line in rural areas.

  • 6.Scheme of National Awards for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities – In order to recognise their effort and encourage others to strive to achieve excellence in this field, separate awards are being presented to the most outstanding employees with disabilities, best employers, best placement agency/officer, outstanding individuals and for outstanding technological innovation and adaptation of innovation to provide cost effective technology.

  • 7.Trust Fund for the empowerment of persons with disabilities – An excess of Rs.723.79 crores annually from the borrowers through rounding off in collection of interest tax, should be transfer to Trust Fund which would be use for the welfare of the disabled people.

  • 8.Technology Development Projects in Mission Mode – A scheme started during 1990-91 with a view to provide suitable and cost effective aids and appliances through application of technology and to increase employment opportunities of the disabled people.

 

5. Social Security

  • In simplest of words, Social Security is the mechanism that ensures 'Freedom from Wants' for the needy i.e. the mechanism that provides sustenance to those who cannot work and earn their living due to temporary or chronic reasons.

  • Known interchangeably by different names like - 'Social Protection, 'Social Welfare' etc. it covers measures or action programmes aimed towards the welfare of vulnerable sections of population like

  • Children

  • Elderly

  • People with Disabilities

  • Women

  • Unemployed

  • Socially Marginalised

  • Farmers

  • Tribal Groups

  • Sex Workers

  • Persons living with HIV

  • It is a pre-requisite for just and equitable society which acts as shock absorber and step towards protecting people against vulnerabilities, bridging societal inequalities, ending poverty and hunger and strengthening human dignity, social cohesion and democracy.

  • Social Security covers diverse aspects within its ambit like - Pension schemes, unemployment allowance, Nutrition and Health related schemes, education and skill development schemes, providing essential utilities at subsidised rates etc.

  • In short, any measure or programme that can promote the welfare and improve the quality of life of the population can be referred to as social security measure.

 

5.1. Evolution of the Concept of Social Security

  • The concept of social security is not new. It has been there for centuries in the form of welfare provided by Kings and emperors to the needy population. For example, the "Free Grain to Poor" in Roman Empire is perhaps the oldest recorded form of social security.

  • In modern era with the rise of Nation States, the theory of 'Social Contract' forms the basis of state sponsored Social Security measures. As per the 'Social Contract' the individuals who join together to form a society or nation state have the right to be protected and provided for their welfare by the state. This forms the basis of 'Poor Laws' of 1601 in Britain and then the 'Worker's Compensation' and 'Sickness' allowance programmes by Otto Von Bismarck in Germany as the first modern examples of Social Security.

  • The concept of Social Security was formalised by the adoption of 'UN's Universal Declaration on Human Rights'. Article 22 of this declaration can be regarded as the core premise for social security. It reads as - "Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality."

  • Further Article 23 of the declaration says that - "Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection."

  • International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopted 'Social Security Convention, 1952' to establish a worldwide agreed minimum standard on Social Security. Social Security contingencies as per this convention are-

  • Old Age Pension

  • Survivor's/Dependants Benefit

  • Occupational Injuries

  • Disability Benefits

  • Unemployment Benefits

  • Family Benefit for maintenance of family

  • Medical care

  • Maternity benefit

  • Social assistance for others in need

  • The concept of Social Security founds a conspicuous mention in the Millennium Development Goals as well as Sustainable Development Goals.

 

5.2. Evolution of Social Security in Modern India

  • India can be regarded as an early starter in the field of Social Security and as early as in 1923, the Workmen's Compensation Act was enacted in India.

  • As India is a founding member of both ILO as well as UN, the principles of Social Security highlighted by these institutions find their mention in the Indian constitution. The Article 41 of Indian Constitution expressively talks about Social Security. It says - 'The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.'

  • This Directive Principle of State Policy though not legally enforceable, forms the moral and legal basis for several of the Social Security measures and schemes India has initiated for its vulnerable population.

 

5.3. Need for Social Security in India

  • As discussed above, Social Security refers to the mechanism that provides sustenance to those who cannot work and earn their living due to temporary or chronic reasons. Our ranking on Human Development Index (131 out of 188) shows that India is in 'medium human development category'.

  • This is primarily due to poor living conditions of millions of vulnerable sections of our society like women, children, elderly, unemployed, disabled, farmers, tribal groups etc. Hence, India needs Social Security measures to raise the living standards of these people to bring them out of the cycle of vulnerability.

  • Earlier the social security in India was provided by the traditional joint family system. But now this traditionally informal security system of family in India has been impacted due to industrial revolution, modernization and urbanization and job opportunities in cities, individualistic attitude of children, etc.

  • This necessitates the state to step in as provider of social security.

 

5.4. Types of Social Security

  • Preventive Social Security - These are the schemes that are aimed at risk prevention i.e. reducing vulnerabilities that could lead to socio-economic marginalisation. It covers schemes like health care, vaccination, education, livelihood opportunities etc.

  • Promotional Social Security - it covers schemes that provide assistance to socio-economically marginalised people. For example- reservations in education and jobs, rehabilitation, financial and other assistance etc.

 

Securing Farmers' Welfare

  • In 2015, the ministry of Agriculture was renamed as the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare. The change in name is recognition that agriculture is not just about producing more food or crops but also about ensuring that the people engaged in this sector i.e. the Farmers live a comfortable and affluent life comparable to other sections of society.

  • After independence, India has attained food security and high agriculture production levels. But despite this growth in agriculture, farmers who form more than 45% of total workforce suffer from poverty, vulnerability and poor standards of living. As per NSSO data, around 40% of agriculture households will take up a different occupation if given a choice. In addition, the farmer suicides point to the distress among the farming community.

  • This shows that farmers as an occupational community are in dire need of social security measures.

 

Vulnerabilities faced by Indian farmers

  • The biggest vulnerability faced by the farmers in India is small size of land-holdings leading to diseconomies of production. This coupled with high population growth and poor ability of industrial sector to absorb surplus labour force leads to poor per capita farm incomes. (85% of Indian Farmers are Small and Marginal i.e owning less than one and two hectares of land respectively)

  • Vagaries of nature/weather in form of weak monsoons, excess and untimely rains/hails are a peril for the farming community in India. Also, natural vagaries not just affect the current year's production or income but their effects can spill over to coming years as well in the form -

  • Loss of savings

  • Rising indebtedness in order to meet subsistence needs

  • Reduction of water levels in reservoirs, ground water aquifers, soil etc.

  • Price movements due to supply side gluts in the market also affect farmers. Since farmers lack storage and warehousing mechanisms, they unload their stock soon after the harvest and there is glut in market leading to fall in prices. The need for credit for upcoming crop also leads to distress sale soon after harvest.

  • The impending climate change is also leading to increased adverse weather conditions and increased incidence of pest attacks and diseases thereby increasing the vulnerability of farmers.

  • Viewing farmer welfare only in terms of production and prices is misleading. Farmers being residents or rural India also suffer from the poor quality of rural amenities like lack of good transport infrastructure (16% of Indian villages lack all weather road connectivity) (still 25% of rural households lack electricity connection)

  • As men move away from farm related work to other diverse occupations, the agriculture is witnessing 'feminisation' of agriculture and it is the women who are now exposed to these vulnerabilities.

 

Government schemes/plans/policies for farmer welfare

  • Subsidized inputs like fertilizers, water, electricity, seeds etc.

  • Priority sector lending, Jan Dhan Yojana etc. to ensure credit availability to farmers.

  • Minimum Support Price mechanism and Public procurement to ensure remunerative pricing for farmers.

  • Entrepreneurs Guarantee Scheme, 50% capital subsidy scheme, easy loans by NABARD, Cold storage development under National Horticulture mission etc. to ensure development of warehousing and storage facilities.

  • Marketing reforms through Model APMC Act and E-NAM (Electronic National Agriculture Market) to ensure more options and better price for farm produce.

  • Technology aided solutions in the form of -

  • Soil Health Cards (testing the soil and providing recommendations to farmers on improving soil productivity and reduce fertilizer usage)

  • Biotech Kisan (Krishi Innovation Science Application Network) to link farmers with the scientific community in order to boost farm production and incomes.

  • For Social welfare of farming community schemes like MGNREGA (providing a legal/statutory right to employment), Direct Benefit Transfer, PDS, Indira Awas Yojana, NRLM (National Rural livelihood Mission) etc. has been taken up.

  • The state is the natural custodian of farmers' social security as well as public's food security. It is the duty of the state to protect them against natural risk, creating infrastructure and social amenities and facilitating knowledge and information flow.

  • But the tax-paying citizens who benefit from food security and the private sector which gains from a prosperous farm sector (through cross sectoral linkages) also have a duty towards farmers' welfare.

 

5.5. SYSTEMIC REFORMS IN MGNREGA

About MGNREGA

  • The basic underlying motive of MGNREGA is to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work

  • MGNREGA primarily aims at contributing to rural infrastructure development and other land-works in rural areas. It serves as an important catalyst in social and rural development.

  • To balance between growth and prosperity on one hand and social welfare on other the government adopted significant reforms in the MNREGS in last two years.

  • India has seen a steady decline in the proportion of national income coming from the primary sector. The most of the farmer households are living below poverty line. This income security among farmers has posed serious livelihood challenges leading to wide scale migration, diversion of land for non-agricultural purposes and rise in farmer suicides.

  • Government has taken steps to improve farm productivity, securing rural livelihood and infrastructural development. These include Fasal Bima Yojana, loan-waivers, interest free loans, soil health card, neem coated urea, etc.

 

Problems and reforms in MGNREGA

  • Programme suffered problems of repetitive works, futile and non-localised asset creation, etc. Systemic reforms have been taken up recently to resolve these issues and benefiting the rural poor including the farmers.

  • 1.Removing agriculture distress by giving impetus to convergence initiatives for agricultural productivity and sustainable infrastructural development - The government has been laying impetus on works having a direct bearing on agricultural productivity including drought proofing, flood control, micro irrigation, water conservation and renovation of traditional water resources.

  • The government has notified 8 states as drought affected under MGNREGA namely Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in 2016-17. To address farmer distress in these drought-ridden states, the government has offered 50 days of extra work.

  • There is a considerable rise from 4% in 2012-13 to 18% in 2016-17 for total works under convergence making MGNREGA a more sustainable agricultural works programme. Mihir Shah Committee in 2013 mentioned inclusion of new works under MGNREGA for better agricultural productivity and sustainable asset creation.

  • 2.Capacity building through skill development: Skilling the people has a multiplier effect on overall enrichment of the society. Project Life under MGNREGA aims to develop skills such as entrepreneurship skills and various trade related skills especially agri-related skills among the workers and their families.

  • This will give a significant thrust in achieving growth in agricultural sector through intensive skill development and will address the major problems of unemployment, migration, poverty, youth’s disillusionment with the agriculture, etc.

  • 3.Financial streamlining (DBT coupled with e-FMS): The DBT platform combined with the biometric based Unique ID program Aadhaar has effectively combated financial leakages through middlemen and also eliminate the duplicity and inconsistencies in records. The system will bring in more efficiency, accountability and transparency.

  • The government had directed the states to mandatorily adopt the existing framework of electronic fund management system (e-FMS). The mechanism would enable transfer of fund from the centre through an online system and enable efficient flow of funds down at Gram Panchayat Level.

  • 4.Impact Assessment Framework: A governance reform aimed to monitor the tangible impact created by the works under NREGS. Basically to improve the quality and productivity of assets created and to create an accountable structure by enabling tracking the actual outcomes.

  • Strategic shift in approach towards rural and agricultural development under MGNREGA will help in generating sustainable livelihood and assuring social security to the farmers.

Yojana July 2017

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