- In this article Souvik Dutta and Shouvik Majumdar writes on how smart city projects must be aligned to the needs of the disabled to make it more inclusive.
|Key facts about disability in India|
|• India has around 80 million people with disability.|
• According to the Word Bank, one in every 12 households in India has a person living with disability.
Key Government Initiatives
- Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 deals with the problems faced by differently-abled persons in India.
- The Act specifically refers to ease of access to public or private buildings, workplaces, commercial activities, public utilities, medical or health services etc.
- Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan (Accessible India campaign) was launched in 2015 with a motive to make it convenient for persons with disabilities to access administrative buildings, transport etc.
Role of Smart Cities in helping person with disability
- Smart Cities Mission offers a great opportunity to ensure inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities.
- The objectives of the Smart City Mission for persons with disabilities are to:
- ensure access to pathways, junctions, public transportation etc.
- Create accessible websites and government portals.
- Create accessible digital technology.
- Design accessible buildings, parks, playgrounds, schools, colleges, hospitals, recreational areas, public toilets, etc.
- Smart cities mission can learn from the global best practices and some of the initiatives taken by start-ups within the country.
- There are location-based technologies that offer real-time support for users with disabilities in many cities. Example “Smart Cities for All Toolkit” created by Microsoft.
- Sydney is rolling out one of the world’s most comprehensive network of Braille and tactile signs to help visually impaired pedestrians.
- Community APP such as SeenAb which collects data regarding real time issue faced by the disabled can be used by the governments while formulating policies.
- CSR funding can be used to invest in projects that support the cause for disability under Smart City Mission.
- There is a lack of study in India to identify the problems with disabled at the micro level.
- Accessible India initiative in the Smart City projects may not achieve the desired objectives if there is no proper study.
- There is also a risk of mis-allocation as well as mis-utilisation of funds due to it.
- Bidding for the Smart City requires companies to have certain scale which may make it impossible for small scale innovators working in the field of disability.
- Startups cannot scale up unless there is government support in the initial phase of development.
- Way Forward
- To make Smart City Mission successful the project must be aligned to the needs of its disabled residents and hence the government must engage and initiate projects which are directly beneficial to the aged and disabled population.
- The Smart City initiatives must be aligned with the Startup India initiative to encourage innovations.
- This article analyses the recent election result of Maldives and what it means for India.
- Background and facts of the election in Maldives
- Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has been declared the winner of the recently held election in Maldives.
- He defeated Abdulla Yameen, the incumbent President.
- He is the joint presidential candidate for an opposition alliance and belongs to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
- Faisal Naseem is the Vice-President-elect.
- Issues with Abdulla Yameen’s presidency:
- His presidency saw a rise of Islamist radicalism in Maldives.
- He was accused of undermining the democracy in Maldives as he imposed a 45-day state of emergency in his country.
- Former President Mohammed Nasheed who is in exile was disqualified to contest the elections.
- Also, Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was sent behind bar on the charge of attempting a coup.
- There were also many concerns about the conduct of Election Commission, the courts and security forces.
- Counting procedures were changed and foreign journalist were not granted visa to cover the election.
- Tilt towards China:
- President Yameen fostered close ties with China and Saudi Arabia, ignoring India.
- During his China visit in 2017, the two nations signed 12 pacts, including a free trade agreement (FTA).
- Maldives became the second country in South Asia, after Pakistan, to enter into an FTA with China.
- He fully endorsed China’s ambitious Maritime Silk Road initiative.
- Why the conduct of successful election and the results are important?
- Everyone assumed that Abdulla Yameen will get a second term owing to controlled nature of the elections.
- There was also fear with regards to the smooth transition of power which was put to rest after the incumbent President conceded defeat and vowed to ensure smooth transition.
- Challenges for the new government
- The new government will be tested in governance.
- Democratic institutions have weakened in Maldives and the fragile democracy can be susceptible to radical ideologies if not effectively government.
- Economic presence of China in Maldives is a reality and the new government will have to deal with it.
- Significance of the result for India
- The results present a chance for India to reset ties with Maldives.
- Talks on visas to Indian job holders can begin once the new government takes over.
- India can also now renew talks over the fate of Indian Coast Guard and Air Force personnel stationed in the Maldives, whose visas have been pending since June.
- What India should do?
- India should siege the moment to rebuild ties with Maldives.
- It must stay away from positioning itself behind any one particular party in Maldives.
- India should build sustainable long-term relationship with people of neighboring countries including Maldives rather than focusing only on political elite.
- The larger agenda must be to partner the Maldives in its stability and development rather than engaging in a tug of war with China.
1. A study published in The Lancet says India is ranked at 158 out of 195 countries in 2016.
2. The study ranks the countries based on the level of investment in human capital.
3. Human capital- Human capital is recognised as the level of education and health in a population and is considered an important determinant of economic growth.
4.India ranks 158th in the world for its investment in education and health sector.
5.South Asian countries ranking below India are Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
6.Countries that are ahead of India in the region are Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives.
7.India is behind Sudan and ahead of Namibia in the ranking.
8.The U.S. is ranked 27th, China at 44th and Pakistan at 164th.
9.The study concluded that there is association between investment in education and health and improved human capital and GDP.
- Amitava Roy Committee on Prison reform has been constituted by Supreme Court.
- Objective of the committee is to examine various problems plaguing prisons in the Country and recommend:
- Overcrowding of prison.
- Lack of legal advice to convicts to issues of remission and parole.
- Unnatural deaths of prisoners.
- Gross inadequacy and the lack of trained staff.
- Examination of the functioning of Under Trial Review Committees
- Probe the reasons for violence in prisons and recommend preventive measures.
- Recommend measures for the health, education, development of skills, rehabilitation and social reintegration of children in observation homes
- Supreme court wants Parliament to formulate a strong law to cleanse Political system in India.
- Court has referred N. Vohra Committee report before passing its orders on decriminalizing politics.
- Vohra Committee report has highlighted the problem of criminal nexus among criminals, politicians and bureaucrats in India which could have been one of the reason behind Mumbai Blast.
- According to SC, collaboration of a diffused network of criminal, police and political patrons needs to be rectified.
- SC over rapid criminalization in politics has demanded:
- Parliament should frame a law that makes it obligatory for political parties to remove leaders charged with “heinous and grievous” crimes such as rape and murder.
- Candidate should submit their criminal past record to Election Commission.
- Political Parties in turn to publish online the pending criminal cases of candidate on their website, newspaper and on TV channel.
- Political party should refuse tickets to offenders in both parliamentary and assembly poll
- Reforms addressing election finance.
- Argument in favor of Supreme Court demand:
- There is steady increase in the criminalization creeping into the system.
- Criminalization of politics and corruption has become National and Economic terror.
- The Law Commission of India, in its 244th report has also raised concern over the politicians with extensive criminal backgrounds entering into the political system.
- Voters have a right to know about politicians’ antecedents and will help citizens make a more informed choice
- Disclosure of antecedents makes the election a fair one.
- Argument against the Supreme Court order:
- According to Representation of the People Act, only convicted lawmakers can be disqualified and not accused ones.
- Public Interest Foundation & Ors. versus Union of India & Anr. judgement says any judicial attempt to broaden the criteria for membership of Parliament beyond the constitutional provisions laid out in Article 102(1)(a) to 102(1)(d) would be disastrous on multiple fronts.
- Person is presumed innocent until he is proven guilty and nothing prevents an accused become a lawmaker once he wins the election.
- Proportion of members of Parliament facing criminal charges has been growing since 2003, when SC had mandated disclosure of criminal records.
- False cases could be registered on prospective candidates.
- Current Ground for disqualification under RP Act, 1951
- Section 8 and 8A: Conviction for certain actions and corrupt practices
- Section 9 and 9A: Corruption or disloyalty and when there is subsisting contract between person and government.
Section 10 and Section 10A: Disqualification for offices under government company and failure to lodge account of election.
- Azim Premji University published “State of Working India Report “2018 highlighted India’s employment growth and growth in employee’s salary
- Report has recommended Government to formulate National Employment Policy in the wake of increasing unemployment rate
- Finding of the report on unemployment
- Unemployment has risen to more than 5% overall.
- In North Indian States, young people with higher education levels suffer an unemployment rate as high as 16%.
- Women’s employment is still low, In Uttar Pradesh, only 20 women are in paid employment for every 100 men, while 50 in Tamil Nadu and 70 in Mizoram and Nagaland.
- Finding of the report on salary
- 57% of Indian workforce earnings is up to Rs.10,000 per month and 1.6% employee’s earning is up to Rs.50,000.
- 59% of casual worker earn just up to rupees 5,000 in a month
- The average salary of unorganised sector employee is much below than Central government employees
- Caste gap is also big reason for earning of wages. Dalits and Adivasis earn only 55-56% of upper caste workers’ earnings
- Unemployment and growth rate
- Between 1970s and 80s GDP growth was around 3-4% with employment growth rate about 2%
- Between 2000 and 2015, real wages grew in every sector; the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) was about 3%.
- Between 2013 and 2015, employment actually shrank by seven million
- The low wages creates extremely high demand for government employment
- In 2018, 10% increase in GDP rate resulted in less than 1% increase in employment.
- The Golden Globe Race (GGR) is a solo sailing race around the globe in a watercraft with no kind of modern technology such as GPS, electronic watches and electronic compass.
- There were 18 participants in the event, belonging to 13 countries in 2018
- The indigenously built sailing vessel ‘Thuriya’, built by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Ltd at Goa was used by Indian sailor (Commander Abhilash Tomy) in GGR.
- Thuriya showcased India’s boat building capability on the world forum promoting the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
- Bioethicists have expressed concern over the clinical application of gene editing.
- About Gene Editing
- It is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA by allowing genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations.
- 3. About CRISPR-Cas9 system
- The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats(CRISPR) and associated protein 9 (Cas9) is faster, cheaper, more accurate and more efficient than other existing genome editing methods.
- It is adapted from a naturally occurring genome editing system in bacteria.
- It acts like a pair of molecular scissors (by enzymes like Cas9) and snips the two DNA strands at a specific location and modify gene function.
- Benefits of Gene editing tools:
- Gene editing tool has transformed medical research by removing a faulty gene at embryonic stage.
- Recently China used a variation of Crispr to correct Marfan Syndrome, an inherited disorder that affects connective tissue.
- In 2017, American biologists used Crispr to repair a genetic mutation that could cause a deadly heart condition.
- Concerns of Gene editing:
- Health issues: Studies have shown that edited cells can lack a cancer suppressing protein which can raise new fatal health concerns in future.
Ethical concerns: Bioethicists fear abuse of gene editing, not just by misguided governments hoping to create a ‘superior’ race, but also by the private sector preying on a parent’s desire to create a perfect child.
- Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) study was carried out across eight states to assess Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) – Clean India campaign.
- The study was carried out across eight states to explore the implementation of septic tanks in villages.
- About Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM):
- Swachh Bharat Mission is a massive mass movement that seeks to create a Clean India by 2019.
- The mission will cover all rural and urban areas.
- The urban component of the mission will be implemented by the Ministry of Urban Development, and the rural component by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
- Under Swachh Bharat Mission, 4,471 villages have been declared open defecation-free along the Ganga basin with almost complete coverage in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh .
- Findings of CPCB assessment
- Domestic sewage from towns and villages along the Ganga is the main source of pollution (over 70%) in the river.
- Industrial effluents contribute to the rest of the pollution (30%).
- The faecal coliform (bacteria) levels in the Ganga stretches flowing through Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the past four years have not decreased considerably.
- Along Ganga, water table is quite high and the septic tanks if not de-sludged properly, then the wastewater can leach into the groundwater.
- In many towns, there is no control over the design of pit tanks or on how they will be emptied.
- The septic tanks used in many urban areas under SBM cause second-generation problems either due to faulty construction or careless treatment of faecal sludge.
- Recommendations to decrease the sewage load:
- Careful monitoring of septic tanks or pit designs.
- Reuse of sludge for compost.
- A decentralised approach in treating the sludge.
- SBM guidelines a solution to decrease the sewage load:
- On-site treatment plants:According to guidelines, if there is no sewerage facility, an on-site treatment system like twin pits, septic tanks, bio-digesters, or bio-tanks should be constructed for the collection, treatment and disposal of sewage.
- Twin-pit toilets: These are being built under SBM as treatment plants and do not require any faecal sludge treatment and the excreta turns into nutrient-rich compost after a year and can be used in farms.
Awareness: Creating mass awareness through a multimedia campaign and interpersonal communication in villages regarding sewage tanks, design etc.
- Center Government to bring a legal framework to push for unbranded generic drugs.
- Though the government is trying to push for unbranded generic drugs, doctors are reluctant to prescribe.
3. Central government may bring in a legal framework under which doctors will have to prescribe unbranded generic medicines.
4. The major advantage of generic medicine is cost benefit.
5. Generic medicine cannot be marketed at a price higher than the branded medicine, so it is often a cheaper option, both for the consumer and the government.
- Unbranded generic medicines are commonly called as “generic medicines” or “generic drugs”.
7. Such as Paracetamol is sold under the brand name ‘Calpol’ or ‘Sumo’, it is called a branded generic drug. But when it is sold as ‘paracetamol’ itself, it is called unbranded generic drug.