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GS-1


What schools have to do with health (Indian Express)

Context

  • Malnutrition in India and its solution
  • India’s under three-year-old child malnutrition rate was double the poverty rate and 20 times the percentage of the hungry in India (percentage of households in which any member had less than two full meals, on any day of the month, that is, even one day without two square meals counts as hungry).

The broad aspects of malnutrition that must be kept in mind when devising strategies for dealing with it.

  1. The ability to access food items. This depends on household income or the ability to sustain certain levels of consumption. The rate of poverty (headcount ratio) is the standard indicator.
  2. household/family knowledge and information about good nutrition. This includes knowledge about locally available foods that are good from the nutrition perspective. ability to read coupled with the availability of appropriate reading material on nutrition; access to media such as newspapers, radio and TV, coupled with propagation of such information on radio and finally, special programmes like the ICDS that directly educate mothers about child rearing and nutrition.
  3. the state of health. Even if the right kind of food and nutrition is available, a child may not be able to consume and/or absorb it properly due to ill health or sickness.
  4. Poverty affects cross-state differences in child malnutrition
    1. It has to be addressed through economic growth, reform of welfare programmes etc.
    2. The average per capita GDP is an important determinant of poverty.
    3. The consumption share of the bottom 40 per cent of the population is an important determinant of poverty.

Solution

Social welfare benefits from direct intervention by the government to improve the lot of the bottom 40 per cent can come if it focuses on two long-neglected quasi-public goods.

  1. Public health including communicable disease and vector control, quality drinking water, drainage, sewerage and solid waste disposal in every city, town and village in the country.
    1. In the Indian environment, access to water and toilets, breastfeeding (to impart immunity in an unhealthy environment), access to sound health advice/treatment, the prevalence of vaccination and availability of vitamin supplements are possible indicators.
  2. Universal primary education and literacy to a global standard that is visible in learning outcomes.
    1. Literacy can help in acquiring knowledge about hygiene, nutrition and sanitation. The government must ensure that every citizen has the education that she is supposed to acquire with the completion of primary education.

Example

  • The ICDS programme seems to have helped in providing public health education to mothers and thus contributed to the outcome. The policy implications, however, extend beyond nutrition to other health outcomes.

Conclusion

  • Improvements in environmental sanitation could have a significant impact in reducing malnutrition in India.
  • The importance of primary education, particularly of females, in helping spread information and knowledge about personal hygiene, sanitation and nutrition. Much more could, however, be done through appropriate school curricula and media campaigns to promote public health education.

GS-2


Will engage with China to avoid doklam (Indian Express) 

Context:

  • India will remain firm and will continue to engage with China to avoid another Doklam-like situation along the border.

The Doklam Issue: an overview

  • The Doklam conflict started when India (Indian Army) objected a road construction by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China in the Doklam plateau which China claims to be a part of its Donglang region. However, India and Bhutan recognise it as Doklam, a Bhutan territory.
  • Later, China accused Indian troops of entering in its territory and India accused the Chinese of destroying its bunkers (People’s Liberation Army bulldozed an old bunker of the Indian army stationed in Doklam).
  • Thereafter China stopped the passage pilgrims heading toward Kailash-Mansarovar through the Nathu La pass, Sikkim.
  • The Doklam standoff, which began on June 16, was resolved on August 28, with both sides pulling back troops, and China stopping construction of a road which India had objected to.

What are the common interest of India and China as far as Asian affairs are concerned?

  • China has acquiesced in India’s participation in the East Asia Summit and India has joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
  • In the international economic system, there is no difference between the two countries.
  • Both aim to pursue long-term objectives of broad parity between the developed countries and the developing and transition economies in international financial institutions.
  • Interlocking economic and trade relationships could knit China and India closer together.
  • The two countries have already begun working together in multinational forums on such issues as climate change and environment protection, and have no real differences.
  • They further encourages international biodiversity, promote dialogue among civilizations, combate transnational crime and deals with challenges from non-traditional threats to security.
  • The two countries also share a mutual interest in keeping open the sea lanes of communication in the Indian Ocean, since the goods that flow from there to China go past India as well.

Conclusion:

  • India’s and China’s broad strategic goals are essentially the same, i.e. preserving our strategic autonomy, protecting our people and responsibly helping shape the world.
  • This cannot be achieved by conflict, but only through cooperation.

Andaman sea region, India eyes military expansion (Indian Express)

Context

  • New Delhi is working on expanding the military effectiveness of its outpost at the juncture of Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, country’s only tri-service command.

Reasons

  • To dominates the strategically important Malacca Strait.
  • Countering the increasing Chinese presence in the region, which has been a cause of concern

Inititatives

  • The airstrip at INAS Baaz, the naval aviation base on Campbell Bay on the Great Nicobar island, is currently being extended from 3,050 feet to 10,000 feet.
    • The extension, which will allow the Navy to place its modern P-8I surveillance aircraft at INAS Baaz
    • It is scheduled to be completed by 2021.
    • It will increase our surveillance reach by thousand miles.  which will cover South China Sea
    • Baaz is adjacent to Malacca straits, an area of immense strategic interest to us

Note: The Navy currently operates its eight P-8I aircraft, procured from the US in 2013, from INS Rajali base at Arakonam in Tamil Nadu.

  • The Navy also plans to commission its second Floating Dry Dock Navy (FDDN) — constructed by L&T — near Port Blair by December,
    • With a dockyard under completion. This will allow more naval ships to be maintained and serviced in the islands.
  • The Navy is also in the process of constructing three forward operating bases (FOBs) in the islands — at Diglipur, Kamorta and at Campbell Bay — to allow its Khukri class corvettes to be distributed across various locations in the archipelago.

Note: khukri class

  • The Khukri class corvettes are equipped with Diesel Engines assembled in India, under license by Kirloskar Group. Around 65% of the ship contains indigenous parts.
  • These ships were intended to be the replacement for the Petya II corvettes.
  • Ship under this class are
    • INS khukri
    • INS khanjar
    • INS kirpan
    • INS kuthar

Her right to choice (Indian Express)

Context

  • SC needs to classify child marriage as forced marriage

What is the conflict between IPC 375 and POCSO Act?

  • The verdict concluded the disparity between these exceptions to Section 375, which allows a husband to have sexual relationship with his 15-year-old wife
  • The definition of ‘child’ in recent laws such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which includes any person below the age of 18.

What are the other important laws against child marriage in the constitution of India?

Child Marriage Restraint Act or Sarda Act of 1929

  • The Act was published in the Gazette of India Part-IV.
  • The main aim of the Act was to restrain solemnization of child marriages in India.
  • The Act prohibited marriage of boys below 18years and of girls below 12 years of age.

Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act of 1978

  • The Act rose the minimum age at marriage for girls to 18years and that of boys to 21 years.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

  • The Act came into effect on 1st November 2007
  • Under this Act, “child” means a person who, if a male, has not completed twenty-one years of age, and if a female, has not completed eighteen years of age.
  • The Act defines “child marriage” as a marriage where either of the contracting parties is a child

Section 375 vs the Constitution

  • Exception 2 to Section 375 (which defines rape) of the IPC (as amended by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013), as violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution

Article 15 in the Constitution of India

  • Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
  • The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them

Article 21 in the Constitution of India

  • “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”
  • Article 21 can only be claimed when a person is deprived of his “life” or “personal liberty” by the “State” as defined in Article 12.

How profound is the issue of Child marriage in India?

  • The study based on 2011 Census, stated that 2.5% of marriages of minor girls were reported in Rajasthan.
  • The other states with a high incidence of marriages of girls below the legal age are Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • Rajasthan also topped in the percentage of boys marrying below the legal age of 21 (4.69%).

What are the major reasons for prevalence of child marriage in India?

Economies of marriage

  • Poverty and marriage expenses such as dowry may lead a family to marry off their daughter at a young age to reduce these costs.
  • Patriarchal Indian society considers a girl as an economic burden. Marrying her off at an early age is a way to transfer this burden to the marital family.
  • It is believed that the marriage of the boy brings home an additional hand to assist the unpaid household and economic activities.

Lack of education:

  • Poor educational opportunities for girls, especially in rural areas increase the vulnerability of a girl child to be married off early.
  • In the current patriarchal set up, a girl’s right to education is regarded as a secondary priority to her labor in the household
  • This aggravates the situation as the girl’s’ power to resist marriage and opt for alternative aspirations is decreased.
  • Patriarchy and gender inequalities prevailing in the Indian society is one of the major reasons for persisting high incidence of child marriages.
  • Prevailing cultural perspectives to encourage the child marriage to thrive in.
  • Inadequate implementation of laws is a major reason for persisting menace of child marriage in the country.

What is the suggested way ahead?

  • One of the leading causes of early marriage is the over-emphasized fertility rate.
  • Societies such as India’s, specific roles are assigned to women traditionally and such societies tend to facilitate these through practices like early marriage which reinforce prescribed gender roles.
  • As to what constitutes marital rape and what would constitute marital non-rape needs to be defined precisely before a view on its criminalization is taken.

GS-3


NHAI to get power to speed up Bharatmala programe (The Economic Times) 

Context

  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is set to get the power to approve projects with a construction cost of more than Rs 1,000 crore to ensure faster implementation highway project of the Bharatmala programme.
  • Currently, all highway projects that entail a construction cost of more than Rs 1,000 crore, excluding land, need to be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

The proposal

  • Under the proposal, only public private partnership (PPP) projects under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, where viability gap funding (VGF) is to be provided by the government, will need CCEA clearance.
  • The NHAI board would be empowered to approve all engineering procurement and construction and hybrid annuity projects

About Bharatmala

  • Bharatmala envisions 44 economic corridors across the country at a cost of at least Rs 5 lakh crore.
  • The Bharatmala corridors have been mapped as per traffic density and economic relevance of the cities that will be connected with the help of the Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics.
  • The project involves constructing 24,000km of new highways.
  • The project is aimed at speeding up cargo movement and the development of multimodal logistics hubs and parks on the periphery of major commercial centres.
  • The project includes construction of feeder routes alongside national highways.
  • Around 80% of Bharatmala will be based on a government funded, engineering procurement and construction (EPC) model while the rest will be a hybrid-annuity public private partnership.

India, Brazil, South Africa sign IBSA Trust Fund agreement

Context:

India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) have signed the IBSA Trust Fund Agreement that seeks to fight poverty in developing countries.

Introduction:

It was signed at the 8th IBSA trilateral Ministerial Commission Meeting in Durban, South Africa.

What is IBSA Trust Fund?

  • The IBSA Trust Fund  brings together the three emerging economies of India, Brazil and South Africa to combat poverty in other developing countries.
  • Each country will contribute US $1 million annually to this fund which is managed by the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Special Unit for South-South Cooperation.

BSA Dialogue Forum :

  • The IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) Dialogue Forum is an international tripartite grouping for promoting international cooperation among these countries. It was launched in June 2003.
  • It brings together three large democracies and major economies from three different continents namely, Africa, Asia and South America that represent three important poles for galvanizing South-South cooperation.
  • The forum provides the three countries platform to engage in discussions for cooperation in the field of agriculture, trade, culture, and defence among others.

Cooperation in IBSA is on three fronts:

  • Cooperation in IBSA is on three fronts Forum for consultation and coordination on global and regional political issues, such as reform of global institutions of political and economic governance, WTO/Doha Development Agenda, climate change, terrorism etc.
  • Trilateral collaboration on concrete areas and projects, through 14 working groups and 6 People-to-People (P2P) Forums, for the common benefit of three nations.
  • Assisting other developing countries by taking up projects in the latter through IBSA Fund.
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