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Q.1 The plight of Sri Lankan refugees appears to have gone out of the public consciousness. Discuss the living conditions of Sri Lankan refugees in this context. Elaborate on the efforts put by Sri Lankan government and the results acquired through it.

Introduction

  • Nearly three decades after taking shelter in India, a majority of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees appear to be in two minds in going back to their country despite normalcy returning to the once war-torn island nation. Uncertainty over a peaceful future back home as well as the consequences of returning to India again are the major deterrents for them.

The living condition of Sri Lankan refugees

  • The condition of shelters, restrictions on movement, and limited scope of livelihood opportunities is pathetic.
  • They having been staying in such condition, the one lakh-odd Sri Lankan refugees, in Tamil Nadu ever since the anti-Tamil pogrom in Sri Lanka in July 1983 occurred.
  • Statelessness is a major problem for a section of refugees whose roots are from central parts of Sri Lanka, generally called hill country.
  • The refugees also suffer from social and psychological problems as reports of suicides, school dropouts and child marriage show.
  • Many middle-aged refugees worry about their children’s future, given the fact that 40% of camp refugees are below 18 years.

Efforts by Sri Lankan government

  • As 28,500 refugees are said to be stateless, the Sri Lankan government, in 2003 and 2009, amended its laws to enable easier repatriation.
  • Tamil political parties ask the refugees to return so that the strength of elected representatives from the Tamil-majority Northern Province will go up in the Sri Lankan Parliament.

What are the results?

  • The voluntary reverse flow of refugees has happened only incrementally.
  • Even the end of the Eelam War in May 2009 and the decision of Indian authorities in January 2016 to waive visa fees and overstay penalty on a case by case basis for willing persons have not made a huge difference.
  • In the last eight and a half years, hardly 10% of the refugees (9,238 people) went back through a scheme implemented by Indian officials along with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). There is perhaps good reason for the refugees’ reluctance to return.

Improvement in lifestyle

  • Around 62,000 refugees, living in 107 camps across Tamil Nadu, have been receiving various relief measures of the Central and State governments.
  • In addition, in recent years, the Tamil Nadu government has taken steps for scores of young boys and girls of the refugee community to join professional courses, particularly engineering, benefitting eligible candidates among 36,800 non-camp refugees in the State too.
  • Regardless of the quality of housing and the nature of their jobs, several camp refugees have experienced a perceptible improvement in their lifestyle.
  • The refugees know well that if they go back to Sri Lanka, they will not get many of the benefits they have been enjoying in Tamil Nadu.

Change in status quo

  • Currently, for both India and Sri Lanka, the repatriation of refugees does not seem to be a priority.
  • India and Sri Lanka both cannot afford continuing with the status quo either, as Tamil Nadu holds the distinction of hosting the largest number of refugees in India.

 

Q.2  The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has recently convened a conference focussing on women suffering from Diabetes. In this regard, discuss the steps taken by government to tackle Diabetes and what more can be done for the prevention of diabetes in women? (GS-1)

As the theme for 2017, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is on a mission to make people more aware about ‘Women and Diabetes’, especially those pregnant and how their newborn may be affected by the condition.

Measures taken in India by the government:

National Programme Prevention and Control of Diabetes:

  • The Government of India has launched the on National Programme Prevention and Control of Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases and Stroke (NPDCS) on 8th January 2008.

Objectives of NPDCS:

  • Prevention and control of Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
  • Awareness generation on lifestyle changes.
  • Early detection of NCDs.
  • Capacity building of health systems to tackle NCDs.

The following interventions are planned in the programme:

  • Health promotion and health education for the community;
  • early detection of persons with high levels of risk factors (at the risk of developing disease) through screening; and
  • strengthening health systems at all levels to tackle NCDs and improvement of quality of care including treatment of sleep disorders and augmenting facilities of dialysis.

International Diabetes Federation:

  • The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is a worldwide alliance of over 230 national diabetes associations in more than 160 countries.

Aims:

  • The Federation is committed to raising global awareness of diabetes, promoting appropriate diabetes care and prevention, and encouraging activities towards finding a cure for the different types of diabetes.

Projects and activities of International Diabetes Federation:

  • The International Diabetes Federation conducts a number of activities and projects:
  • These include advocacy and lobbying work, education for people with diabetes and their healthcare providers, public awareness and health improvement campaigns, as well as the promotion of the free exchange of diabetes knowledge.

Other government measures:

  • Governments should implement urban design policies to facilitate physical activity as a component of daily life.
  • The private sector must collaborate to implement many of the prevention-oriented governmental policies.
  • Non-governmental organisations can assist with the formation of multi – sectoral international networks and alliances to advocate for policy change, knowledge generation, and translation of research findings for policymakers.
  • Academics and researchers should engage by improving research and surveillance systems and training young professionals to tackle these complex issues.
  • Efforts are needed to educate the public about diabetes risk factors, prevention, and complications, using clear and simple messages.

What more can done?

  • All women with diabetes should have access to pre-conception planning services to reduce risk during pregnancy.
  • All women and girls should have access to physical activity to have a healthy life.
  • Promoting opportunities for physical exercise especially in adolescent girls, particularly in developing countries, must be a priority for diabetes prevention.
  • For type 1 diabetes Screening for diabetes and GDM should be integrated into other maternal health services. As an early detection ensure better care for women and reduced maternal mortality.
  • Type 2 diabetes prevention strategies must focus on maternal health and nutrition and other health behaviours before and during pregnancy, as well as infant and early childhood nutrition.
  • Antenatal care visits during pregnancy must be optimized for health promotion in young women and early detection of diabetes and GDM.

Q.3 In what ways the freedom of press has been restricted and protected in the India? How freedom of press is important for a democracy. (GS-1)

  • Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through various mediums, such as electronic media and published materials.
  • Wherever such freedom exists mostly implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state and its preservation may be sought through constitutional or other legal protections.
  • In India, freedom of the press has been treated as part of the “freedom of speech and expression” guaranteed by Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution.

What are the restrictions of freedom of press?

  • Article 19(2): The restrictions that apply to the “freedom of speech and expression” also apply to the “freedom of press and media”.
  • Article 19(2), provides reasonable restrictions on the following grounds:
  • Sovereignty & Integrity of India
  • Security of the State
  • Friendly relations with Foreign States
  • Public Order
  • Decency or Morality
  • Contempt of Court
  • Press Council of India: The Press Council of India acts as a watchdog for the print media.
  • It has quasi- judicial powers which have empowered the council to hold hearings on receipt of complaints and take suitable action where appropriate.
  • News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA): In the case of television news, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) looks into violation of code of ethics laid out by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA).
  • No law for protection of identity of sources: The protection of identity of sources used by the journalists is an important element in how they unearth the truth.
  • However, in India, there are no statutory rights accorded to journalists to protect their sources.
  • Criminal defamation: Criminal defamation, as defined under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code, permits any person who has suffered damage in reputation on action of others to sue for defamation.

How can freedom of press be misused?

  • There are often wide public outrages following the negative coverage by press.
  • The press is often guilty of exhibiting a marked bias towards a certain political figure or a party or community or group.
  • Freedom of the press is seen to block progress and to help businessmen make money.
  • Freedom of press may divert attention of the Indian people from the real issues which are socio-economic, to non-issues.
  • The press is also looked upon by its owners as a means of making money.

What is the importance of freedom of the press in democracy?

  • Fundamental to a democratic society: The freedom of press is fundamental to a democratic society like India for it is helpful in strengthening democracy.
  • Check on Government and Administrators: An independent press and news-media press acts as an important check on Government and Administrators.
  • Voice against any social ill or wrong: It is also responsible to raise voice against any social ill or wrong.
  • Strengthening a nation: It works towards strengthening the sovereignty and integrity of a nation.
  • Acts for the public: At national, regional and local level, it is the public’s voice, activist and guardian as well as educator, entertainer and contemporary chronicler.
  • Caution in passing judgments: The press exercises caution in passing judgments, especially on matters where the due process of law is yet to be completed.
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