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MAINS Q/A 12-06-2018

Q1.What are the features of the Government of India’s National Nutrition Strategy announced in September 2017? Does excess emphasis on sanitation help address India’s malnutrition problem? Critically comment.

The rationale for investing in Nutrition is globally well recognized – both as a critical development imperative, as well as crucial for the fulfillment of human rights- especially of the most vulnerable children, girls and women.

It constitutes the foundation for human development, by reducing susceptibility to infections, related morbidity, disability and mortality burden, enhancing cumulative lifelong learning capacities and adult productivity.

Nutrition is acknowledged as one of the most effective entry points for human development, poverty reduction and economic development, with high economic returns. The Global Nutrition Report 2015 estimates that for investment in nutrition, there is a benefit cost ratio of 16:1 for 40 low and middle-income countries.

Features of National Nutrition Strategy :-

  • The Strategy aims to reduce all forms of malnutrition by 2030, with a focus on the most vulnerable and critical age groups.
  • The Strategy aims to launch a National Nutrition Mission, similar to the National Health Mission. This is to enable integration of nutrition-related interventions cutting across sectors like women and child development, health, food and public distribution, sanitation, drinking water, and rural development.
  • Adecentralised approach will be promoted with greater flexibility and decision making at the state, district and local levels.
  • The Strategy proposes to launch interventions with a focus on improving healthcare and nutritionamong children. These interventions will include: (i) promotion of breastfeeding for the first six months after birth, (ii) universal access to infant and young child care (including ICDS and crèches), (iii) enhanced care, referrals and management of severely undernourished and sick children, (iv) bi-annual vitamin A supplements for children in the age group of 9 months to 5 years, and (v) micro-nutrient supplements and bi-annual de-worming for children.
  • Measures to improve maternal careand nutrition include: (i) supplementary nutritional support during pregnancy and lactation, (ii) health and nutrition counselling, (iii) adequate consumption of iodised salt and screening of severe anaemia, and (iv) institutional childbirth, lactation management and improved post-natal care.
  • Governance reformsenvisaged in the Strategy include: (i) convergence of state and district implementation plans for ICDS, NHM and Swachh Bharat, (ii) focus on the most vulnerable communities in districts with the highest levels of child malnutrition, and (iii) service delivery models based on evidence of impact.

 

Linkages of sanitation and eradication of malnutrition :-

  • 6 billion people in the world lack adequate sanitation—the safe disposal of human excreta. Lack of sanitation contributes to about 10% of the global disease burden, causing mainly diarrhoeal diseases.
  • In the past, government agencies have typically built sanitation infrastructure, but sanitation professionals are now concentrating on helping people to improve their own sanitation and to change their behaviour.
  • Improved sanitation has significant impacts not only on health, but on social and economic development, particularly in developing countries.

However excessive emphasis on sanitation is inadequate to address problems of malnutrition as the problem of malnutrition stems from plethora of reasons.

Nutrition is a challenge full of complexity. There is plenty of evidence globally and in India suggesting that poor nutrition affects early childhood development, learning and earning potential with life-cycle effects on national health and economic growth. For an emerging country with one of the fastest economic growth rates, India needs to implement its announced strategy with a focus on evidence, results and learning hence only excessive emphasis on sanitation will not serve the purpose.

Other measures like Integrated Child Development Services, National Health Mission- including RMNCH + A, Janani Suraksha Yojana, Swachh Bharat including Sanitation and the National Rural Drinking Water Programme, Matritva Sahyog Yojana, SABLA for adolescent girls, Mid Day Meals Scheme, Targeted Public Distribution System, National Food Security Mission, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the National Rural Livelihood Mission are also playing important role in reducing malnourishment.

 

Q2. Despite two key measures – demonetisation and GST, India has made very slow progress towards becoming a formal economy. Discuss the reasons and measures needed to formalise economy.

 

Introduction :- Sector which encompasses all jobs with normal hours and regular wages, and are recognized as income sources on which income taxes must be paid is formal sector of Economy.

According to NSSO data, there have been more jobs created in the informal sector than the formal and more than 90% of the population  is employed in informal jobs.

 

Reasons for formalizing economy :-

  • At present, only 10% of India’s over 470 million workforce is in the formal sector.
  • Formalizing the informal sector will lead to fair representation/measurement of economy.
  • It will lead to enhanced tax collection through improved tax base and tax consolidation
  • The daily labours and others will be subject to workers regulations hence probability will be higher to curb illegal practices like child labours, bonded laboures and social security of workers will be enhanced.
  • Skills and education will be more emphasized when formalized.
  • Formal businesses (informal businesses formalized) have better access to bank loans. This will end the money mafias who charge high rates of interest.

 

One-time initiatives like currency swap and some reformation in taxation system might signal intent, but increasing the size of India’s formal economy will require a sustained effort

 

Following steps must be taken by government in order to increase the scope of formal sector:-

  • Financial Inclusion- Access to formal credit, banking facilities and impart financial knowledge. The recent push for promoting digital cashless economy, Scehems such as Jan Dhan Yoajana, Bank Mitras, Lead Bank Scheme, Priority Sector Lending are good steps by the government towards promoting formal economy
  • Improve quality of human capital- Boosting education and skill levels will provide necessary foundation for the formalization of economy. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid Day Meal Schemes, SWAYAM, Skill Inida Mission are some good initiatives by the government.
  • Providing robust infrastructure: Improving connectivity through better roads and railways, improving access to cheap electricity would act as an incentive for setting up of formal companies.
  • Labour laws :- In India there are multiple labour laws and many outdated laws. Easy to understand and coherent set of law is necessary to enable formal sector to comply with it. Focus on increasing Ease of Doing business is also important.

 

According to the Arjun Sengupta committee report 92.4% of the population is engaged in informal sector ,which is a paradox to the inverse relationship between economic growth and informal sector numbers , in Indian economy. Hence enhanced efforts to increase the size of formal sector must be taken.

 

Q3. Critically examine the features of Bharatmala Pariyojana (BMP) initiative and its likely impact on economic growth of India.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has decided to develop around 1,900 km of roads as green-field expressways out of which 800 km will be taken up in the Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I.

Features of Bharatmala Pariyojana (BMP) initiative :-

  • It’s an umbrella project with the objective of optimal resource allocation for a holistic highway development initiative.
  • The components of the Phase-I are Economic corridor development, Inter-corridor and feeder roads, National corridor efficiency, Border and international connectivity roads, Coastal and port connectivity roads and Expressways.
  • Bharatmala Pariyojana has been designed to bridge the gaps in the existing highways infrastructure so as to make the movement of man and material more efficient.
  • It is aimed to solve issues related to traffic congestion, seamless cargo movement across ports and border area connectivity.
  • Special attention has been paid to fulfil the connectivity needs of backward and tribal areas, areas of economic activity, places of religious and tourist interest, border areas, coastal areas, port areas and trade routes with neighbouring countries under the programme.

Impact on economy :-

  • Bharatmala project will include economic corridors (9,000 km), inter-corridor and feeder route (6,000 km), national corridors efficiency improvement (5,000 km), border roads and international connectivity (2,000 km), coastal roads and port connectivity (2,000 km) and Greenfield expressways (800 km)
  • Bharatmala will provide NH linkage to 550 districts, as against around 300 Districts currently and be a major driver for economic growth in the country.
  • Bharatmala Pariyojana will also help generate a large number of direct and indirect employments in the construction activity, the development of highways amenities and also as part of the enhanced economic activity in different parts of the country that will result from better road connectivity.
  • Bharatmala will also have a positive impact on the Logistic Performance Index (LPI) of the country.

 

However the road-building initiative was sorely needed but it does not represent acceleration in road-building, and is unlikely to provide a big boost to the capital expenditure cycle.

  • The outlays of Rs6.92 trillion though sound optimistic if accounted with inflation does not appear to be a big jump.
  • Even when viewed in terms of road length, the proposals do not amount to a significant increase. The central government aims to build around 35,000km of new highways over the next five years however this is not an ambitious target given that around 27,000km of national highways were added in the last five years.

 

Q4. Is torture unethical? Justify.

Torture is inflicting pain or injury to a living entity mentally, physically or emotionally. It is practiced as a deterrence, punishment or revenge etc. Torture can be formal or informal. The prisoners, anti social elements like terrorists experience formal torture inflicted by authorities but in day to day life one can experience torture like in patriarchal society a wife has to bear torture or a in case of bonded labour he/she has to face torture in heinous conditions of work.

On international front efforts are being made in order to regulate, minimize this torture inflicted on criminals, prisoners of war, illegal migrants. United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT)) is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.

Efforts are being taken in that directions as torture is unethical in many ways :-

  • In words of Supreme Court in D. K. Basu case torture is a wound in the soul so painful that sometimes you can almost touch it, but it is also such intangible that there is no way to heal it.
  • Torture as an instrument of “human degradation” used by the state. It results into devastation of life of the person on whose it was inflicted.
  • Torture treats the victim as a means to an end and not an end in themselves. It treats the victim as a ‘thing’, not as a person with all the value that we associate with persons.
  • Imposition of torture and the severity depends mainly on the authorities who enjoys discretion hence torturers often explicitly dehumanise their victims to make it easier to torture them
  • The person under torture gets double jeopardy with assuming the torture as a right of authority by inflicting it the way they want and also the person live in fear, pain and uncertainty about life.
  • Torture is sometimes used to destroy the autonomy of the victim.
  • Torture violates the rights and human dignity of the victim, including the legal right to remain silent when questioned.
  • Torture many a times results into custodial deaths which is against human laws.

 

Torture is held necessary by public many times. It enjoys more than twice the public support in the US that it does in France, Spain, and the UK. However torture is a slippery slope – each act of torture makes it easier to accept the use of torture in the future

 

 

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