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Q1)  In the context of Severe Acute Malnutrition, what is Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF)? What are the reasons that RUTF is gaining faith across many countries? why is India still reluctant to bring it into practice? (GS-1)

What is Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF)?

  • Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) is a high-energy, micronutrient enhanced paste used to treat children under age 5 who are affected by severe acute malnutrition.
  • RUTF is a packaged paste of peanuts, oil, sugar, vitamins, milk powder and mineral supplements, which contains 520-550 kilocalories of energy per 100 g.
  • Additional ingredients may include nuts, legumes, grains and sweeteners to improve the taste.
  • The paste is given to children aged between six months and six years, usually after a doctor’s prescription.

Pros of Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF):

  • It is a practical solution where cooking facilities and fuel are limited.
  • RUTF has a long shelf life and is safe for use even in the absence of clean drinking water.
  • The use of RUTF allows those children without medical complications to be cured right in their own homes and communities.

How it works?

  • In this approach, community health workers are trained in early detection to recognize cases of severe acute malnutrition and provide RUTF and routine medical care.
  • At the same time, health workers learn to recognize medical complications and refer those children to hospitals and health centres for further inpatient treatment.
  • The importance of the community-based approach is that early detection and early treatment leads to better rates of survival and the treatment of many more children.
  • It also empowers communities and is much more cost-effective than inpatient treatment.

What are the cons of Ready-to-use therapeutic food for which India is reluctant to bring it into practice?

  • Concerns have been raised that the use of RUTF may replace nutritional traditional practices and family foods.
  • The government has no enough evidence for the long term benefits of RUTFs.
  • Because once RUTF was stopped, children often slipped back into malnutrition.
  • Moreover, RUTF may improve recovery slightly, but it’s not known that whether RUTF improves relapse, death or weight gain as the quality of evidence was very low.
  • There is high cost involved in purchasing RUTFs packets which are not feasible for a longer run.
  • There are chances of corruption by the intervention commercial exploitation beyond the treatment of severe acute malnutrition.
  • Studies have proven that children who were given URTF found it too heavy to eat anything else afterward.

Usage of Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF):

  • RUTF was first introduced in situations of humanitarian emergencies during the early 2000s when access was a considerable barrier to expanding coverage of inpatient treatment.
  • Its application within Community Management Of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) – an inter-agency strategy supported by WHO, the World Food Programme, the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition and UNICEF – has resulted in a sharp rise in programme coverage and children treated successfully.
  • Currently, 61 countries have some form of treatment for severe acute malnutrition with a community component available, compared to just 9 in 2005.

Q.2) What are ‘three-mile challenges’ for the implementation of JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile)? Explain the measures that can be taken against these challenges. (GS -1)

What is JAM?

  • JAM (short for Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) trinity refers to the government of India initiative to link Jan Dhan accounts, Mobile numbers and Aadhar cards of Indians to plug the leakages of government subsidies.

What are the challenges for implementation of JAM?

Economic Survey divides JAM issues  into three components-

  • Identification or First-Mile:  Identification of beneficiaries by government
  • Transfer or Middle-Mile: Transfer of fund to beneficiaries by government
  • Access or Last-Mile: Access of fund by beneficiaries

The challenges of these components are as follows:l

  • First-mile has issues of ghost and duplicate names due to administrative and political discretion and use of pre-Aadhaar database.  beneficiary eligibility and identification as a first mile challenge has been acknowledged.It points to the need for beneficiary databases and the fact that the “accuracy and legitimacy of beneficiary databases have been hampered by the administrative and political discretion involved in grating identity proofs”. Indeed, the reason why the rollout of the National Food Security Act was extremely delayed was the fact that many state governments were reluctant to clean up and digitise their beneficiary databases.
  • The middle-mile challenge relates to coordination within the government – the lesser number of departments involved in administering a particular subsidy, the easier it is to roll out DBT. In the case of domestic fuel, for example, DBT was easier in the case of LPG because only the union petroleum ministry and the oil marketing companies (and their distributor. Main issue in this layer is of within-government coordination and dealing with supply chain interest groups.
  • Last-mile layer faces issues of lesser Bank penetration, mostly in rural areas.The last-mile challenge is a significant one, which both supporters and critics of DBT have often flagged – the problem of banking infrastructure in rural areas and the failure of the banking correspondent model to take off. The Survey admits that “despite Jan Dhan Yojana’s record breaking feats, basic savings account penetration in most states is still relatively low” (46 per cent on average) and that mobile payments has not quite taken off in the rural areas. It also deals with issues of exclusion of genuine beneficiaries.

Other challenges are as follows:

  • The process of putting new infrastructure in place can be extremely disruptive, as lack of education will make it difficult to understand new procedures.
  • Aadhar accounts are not sufficiently opened as certain issues like privacy are affecting its credibility
  • Some concerns about the effectiveness of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to all schemes.
  • For example: farmers are criticising they it would be difficult to pay high upfront costs for fertiliser and then wait for payments through banks.

What are the measures to be taken?

  • Economic Survey argues that policymakers should decide where to apply JAM based on two considerations of:
  • Amount of leakages: If amount of the leakages in a given scheme/area is huge then it can be next target for introduction of JAM as subsidies with higher leakages will have larger returns from introducing JAM.
  • Control of the central government: Control of central government will reduce administrative challenges of co-ordination and political challenges of opposition by interest groups.
  • Finance ministry should provide adequate and timely disbursement of transaction processing charges for the bank and agent network.
  • There should be an increase in penetration of banks and financial institutions in rural areas.
  • Strict monitoring of subsidy routes is to be maintained. Any suspicious activity should be thoroughly investigated by vigilance agencies
  • Banking Corresponding agents can be used to educate farmers not to fall into traps of moneylenders.
  • There is need for infrastructure like cellular towers, cheap mobile plans because without mobile connectivity JAM would be meaningless.
  • Government should see to it that various schemes like Smart City, Skill India, Digital India, Make In India are integrated with JAM and DBT so that less leakage and more productive results are achieved faster.

Q.3)  What is the “New Mission-Based Deployment Plan” by the Indian Navy?  Also highlight the major maritime challenges faced by India. (GS-2)

Indian Navy’s mission based deployment:

  • Indian Navy has approved new mission-based deployment plan for deploying mission-ready ships and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications and choke points in Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Objective of the mission:

  • Under this mission-based deployment plan, Indian Navy’s 14-15 ships will be deployed year-round in region.
  • These deployments are expected to meet any eventuality across spectrum of operations ranging from acts of maritime terrorism and piracy to Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions.
  • This also aims at maintaining 24/7 and round the year vigil with ships being sustained and turned around on station.
  • The areas where these ships and corvettes and surveillance aircraft are being deployed include the Malacca Strait, North Andaman Sea, Andaman Sea, Andaman Sea including Bangladesh and Myanmar, Lakshadweep islands and Maldives, besides Madagascar and Persian Gulf.
  • These vessels will monitor increased Chinese presence in these areas.

Major maritime challenges faced by India:

  • The Indian security establishment is on high alert to tackle the newest frontier of terror – Maritime Terrorism.
  • The terrorist organisations could misuse hundreds of Indian fishing boats seized over the years.
  • Piracy is part of a maritime insecurity environment in which different threats and forms of transnational organized crime, in particular fishery crimes, are linked.
  • The sea provides an easy way for international crime syndicates, unscrupulous traders and non-state actors to distribute their wares, or to provide belligerents with highly sophisticated weapons.
  • India’s land and marine boundaries is also exposed to infiltration by terrorists/militants and large scale illegal migration.
  • The frequent straying of fishermen into neighbouring country waters has not only jeopardised the safety of the fishermen but has also raised national security concerns.
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