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Below are the suggested answers of UPSC Mains Marathon Current Affairs Questions – August 21.

Note: The suggested answers are indicative only, and not exhaustive.


1. Affordability is an issue preventing poor Indians from getting proper health care. Suggest ways to make market-based health care more affordable in India.(GS 1)

The Hindu

Introduction :-

  • In India healthcare has become a luxurious phenomena where poor are the worst affected as they do not have the resources to pay for the ailments .
  • In this light there was demand for market based health rather than free healthcare as government is lack of resources to adequately accommodate for healthcare services.
  • The main reasons for the same are:
    Low expenditure on preventive healthcare,the high out of pocket expenditure because of low insurance penetration,high cost of drugs,Primary health care is less developed as compared to secondary and tertiary and hence early intervention in case of diseases in low etc.

How to make market based health more affordable in India :-

  • Healthcare needs to be deregulated and investors are allowed to seek profits in an honest manner .This will increase its suppliers sufficiently and will lead to lower prices.
  • Subsidy on purchase of expensive equipment which must be passed onto the customers.
  • Promotionof generic drugs and opening of more Jan Aushadhi Kendras.
  • Regulation/ capping of prices by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority in case of essential drugs/medical techniques as was recently done for heart stents & knee caps to check unjustified profiteering
  • Develop modern infrastructure in towns and nearby villages to retain doctors and provide them with better incentives.
  • Use of technology like telemedicine ,mobile responses can make healthcare more affordable and accessible to the poor.
  • generic and quality medicines should be promoted and break  the nexus among doctors,drug companies ,their agents.
  • Encouragement for research & development to develop more cost effective treatment of ailments.
  • Promote CSR contribution

NITI Aayog’s recent proposal of a public private partnership in healthcare is a welcome step apart from various initiatives of the government such as Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, CGHS (for govt. employees) etc. to make affordable healthcare services available to all.


2. Discuss the key highlights of the new Metro Rail Policy approved the government. What can be the possible challenges in implementing the new policy? Discuss the role of an efficient transportation system for successful implementation of the new metro rail policy. (GS 3)

The Hindu | Live Mint

Introduction:-

  • Recently the Indian government unleashed a new policy for expanding and regulating metro rail services in cities across India. This is the first such policy document prepared by the Centre since metro rail operations began in Delhi in 2002.

Key highlights of new metro rail policy:-

  • Gives a big boost to private players by making private participation mandatory for all the three funding options .
  • Last mile connectivity
    • Every proposal for Metro Rail should necessarily include proposals for feeder systems that help to enlarge the catchment area of each metro station to at least 5 km.
  • Also stipulates rigorous project evaluation by a third party.
  • States:-
    • Also makes it mandatory for state governments to set up a unified metropolitan transport authority.
    • States are required to adopt innovative mechanisms such as ‘value capture financing’ and ‘betterment levy’ to mobilise resources for the project.
    • States will also get a free hand in implementing the projects.
    • plans to empower states to regulate and set up a Fare-Fixation Authority as well as promoting other non-fare revenues such as advertisements, lease of space.
  • Also aims to address the increasing metro rail demand from multiple cities, the highly capital intensive nature of its infrastructure development and limited public resources.
  • In line with global best practices, metro projects will be approved on the basis of ‘Economic Internal Rate of Return of 14%’, a change from the existing ‘Financial Internal Rate of Return of 8%.
  • The new policy mandates Alternate Analysis, requiring evaluation of other modes of mass transit like BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System), Light Rail Transit, Tramways, Metro Rail and Regional Rail in terms of demand, capacity, cost and ease of implementation.
  • The new policy mandates Transit Oriented Development (TOD) to promote compact and dense urban development along metro corridors since TOD reduces travel distances besides enabling efficient land use in urban areas.

Challenges in implementing the new policy:-

  • The policy’s increased emphasis on PPP model for metro development is expected to face challenges, given the low ridership witnessed in some of the operational metro projects and subdued interest of the private sector in taking up PPP projects.
  • Land acquisition problems can still hamper the success of the policy.
  • As the impetus on the states ,the capacity of the states is a matter of concern.
  • High NPA of banks.
  • Time taken by private players is high,overrunning the cost,failure of Hyderabad metro project.
  • Competition from Bus Rapid system,local trains,trunks.
  • The rate of return on metro projects hardly exceeds 2-3% hence will not attract many private players.
  • India lays on 25Km metro line per annum as compared to 300kms in China.

Role of an efficient transportation system for successful implementation of the new metro rail policy:-

  • A good, reliable transportation system is a must to make a city livable and for its economic growth.
  • It is important to build high densities around stations so that residents become habitual public transit users. Planners should improve access to the system by putting in place a range of feeder transit: buses, shared taxis, convenient walkways, cycle tracks and park-and-ride facilities. Without these features, a metro rail system might not be worth its high building cost.
  • With good transportation systems prices are very affordable and  people would start using public transportation more rather than their personal vehicles. This would also tackle the environmental concerns.

Therefore from the experience seen so far government needs to lead from the front and handling the operation,maintenance of metro can be given to private players. Funding from international banks like JICA,WB and investment in R&D can play enabling role.


3. The greatest tragedy in mankind’s entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion. Critically comment. (GS 4)

Introduction:

  • Society happens when people restrain their behavior to create an environment in which they and others can live together in safety, harmony, and prosperity.

Yes:-

  • People now assume that religion and morality have a necessary connection. But the basis of morality is really very simple and doesn’t require religion at all.
  • The first step to hijacking morality is to divorce it from human life and society which religion does.
    • One common way of doing this is by saying that what truly matters, morally speaking, is not how well off people are in this life, but what will happen to them in an afterlife which most of the religions concentrate about.
  • Religion creates a sense of responsibility and fear in the minds of the people to stay moral otherwise punishment would be there.
  • A hijacked morality can lead people to do great harm in the name of morality.
    • In the present-day, Muslim terrorists are frequently killing people for nothing more than disagreeing with their brand of Islam.
    • When someone is willing to kill himself and others for the sake of a reward in the afterlife, his/her moral sense has been completely hijacked.
  • Religion hijacks morality through different ways by disregarding the human senses of empathy and justice, making people doubt their own ability to distinguish between good and evil, and asserting that morality must come directly from the commands of authority.

No:-

  • Religion tends to include a set of basic beliefs about the nature of human persons and the nature of the good.So to say religion “hijacked” the very beliefs that define religion as religion evinces a failure to understand what religion is.
  • Human civilization exploded because people figured out how to get lots of them to live together in close proximity and that requires many anti-instinctual reactions in order for it to work.
    • In that sense, this hijacking of morality by religion is not necessarily all bad. It downloaded socialization into people with a great sense of fear for lack of conformity. Society may have progressed past needing it, but it did a pretty good job of forcing people to be nice to each other .
  • Ultimately, morality is about the conditions required for human happiness and well-being, which includes the stability and smooth functioning of human society. If religion also ensures this then it is good but if the religious notions are against this then religion is no more contributing to morality of society .

 

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