9 PM Daily Brief – September 14th, 2020

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  1. Cancelling of Question Hour in Parliament
  2. India’s Policy on Tibet
  3. From peace to conflict Prevention
  4. Cancer burden in India

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1.Cancelling of Question Hour in Parliament

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2- Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Context- The decision to go without “Question Hour” during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, beginning September 14, has evoked serious concerns about the democratic functioning of the institution.

What is the democratic functioning of the government?

  • There are two type of democracy i.e. direct and indirect democracy.
  • Direct Democracy- Nations which have direct democracy, peopleexercise their supreme power directly through referendum, initiative, recall, plebiscite. Such as Switzerland.
  • Indirect Democracy-Nations which have indirect democracy, the representatives elected by the people exercise the supreme power. Thus carry on the government and make the laws. Such as Parliamentary and Presidential.
  • India is an indirect democracy where the questions are asked from civil society platforms, the mass media, community gatherings and ultimately within the highest temple of democracy, the legislature itself.

What is the Question Hour?

  • It is the first hour of a sitting sessionof India’s Lok Sabha.
  • Members of Parliament raise questions to the concerned minister about matters of public interest and administrative activity whether domestic or foreign.

It is not only an opportunity for the members to raise questions, but it is a parliamentary device primarily meant for exercising legislative control over executive actions.

  • The concerned Minister is obliged to answerto the Parliament, either orally or in writing.
  • Copies of answers given are available to members at the Notice office before the start of the day’s proceedings and on the websites.

It is a device to criticise government policies and programmes, ventilate public grievances, expose the government’s lapses, extract promises from ministers and thereby, ensure accountability and transparency in governance.

Illustration of this role can be seen in the Lok Sabha in November 1957– In which the finance minister T. T. Krishnamachari had resign and took the moral responsibility for what had happened after the enquiry headed by Justice M. C. chagla.

Why is government trying to avoid Question Hour?

The government is duty bound to respond to the following failures in Parliament. However, by cancelling the Question Hour, the government has opted for a face- saving measure.

  1. Prevent Spread of coronoa virus and limit mortality.
  2. Unprecedented decline in GDP and its impact on the economy.
  3. New Education Policy.
  4. Rising unemployment.
  5. Miseries of migrant labour.
  6. Tension at the border.

Thus, these actions erode the constitutional mandate of parliamentary oversight over executive actions as envisaged under Article 75 (3) of the Indian Constitution. It needs to be understood that such actions are a planned covert attempt by the government to diminish the role of Parliament and turn itself into an “Executive Parliament”.

Way Forward

Since the government is accountable to the parliament, the parliamentary proceedings meant to hold the government accountable should not be suspended or curtailed as it will go against the essence of the Constitution. The annals of history of parliamentary proceedings and functioning in India remind us of the strength and scope of Question Hour as an effective armour to raise the concerns of the people.

2.India’s Policy on Tibet

Source: LiveMint

Syllabus-GS2-India and its neighbourhood

Context: Recently china has unveiled the Communist Party of China’s (CPC’s) new policy towards Tibet at a conclave.

What is China’s new strategy towards Tibet?

  • It entails a mix of persuasion, development, connectivity, indoctrination and coercion.
  • It intends to construct an ironclad shield to safeguard stability against separatists and hostile foreign interests by sinicizing Tibetan Buddhism.
  • It aims to step up ideological education, manufacturing a favourable historical narrative, strengthening border defence, deepening surveillance and enhancing connectivity to neighbouring Chinese provinces.
  • The new policy continues to betray the CPC’s insecurities vis-a-vis Tibet.
  • It also indicates that China believes that it occupies the dominating heights of its relationship with Tibet.

What strategies China had in past Towards Tibet?

  • Limit the Dalai Lama’s global outreach.
  • Constrain protests in Tibet.
  • Change the demography of the region.
  • Increased transgression across Indo-tibetan border.

What is Impact of Chinese strategy?

  • Transform the Tibetan landscape and economy: it has created vested interests in favour of china’s rule.
  • It has found numerous ways to put pressure on New Delhi to limit formal interactions with the Dharamsala-based Central Tibetan Administration.
  • Claims over Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (China claims as “South Tibet”).

How China is interfering with Dalai Lama institution?

  • China is planning to end the institution of the Dalai Lama with Tenzin Gyatso’s departure.
  • Identifying the next Dalai Lama:China has planned to manage by invoking the Golden Urn
  • A bureaucratic device used by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty to manage the politics of reincarnation in the late-18th century by drawing lots.
  • China has declared that all reincarnations require the approval of the Chinese government.
  • Panchen Lama: by tradition Panchem Lama is the preceptor of the Dalai Lama but it is already under Chinese control.

What could be possible implications, if china has full control over Tibet?

  • Rise in Chinese aggression across Himalayas once it has strong hold over Tibet completely.
  • It will legitimise the People Republic of China’s (PRC) annexation of Tibet.
  • The balance of power will shift massively in favour of China.

What role India needs to play in context of Tibet?

  • Ensure that China does not consolidate its hold over Tibet.
  • China’s insecurities about the loyalties of ethnic Tibetans about the external legitimacy of its annexation will make harder to actively pursue territorial ambitions in the Himalayas.
  • Tibetan aspirations for autonomy or freedom from Chinese rule.
  • Ensure that senior lamas of all sects of Tibetan Buddhism, including the Dalai and Karmapa, remain free to pursue their religion and politics.
  • India should not accept the legitimacy of the Golden Urn processand China’s self-arrogated authority to recognize religious reincarnations.
  • India is hosting the largest population of ethnic Tibetans outside their homeland. Hence, the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama can be from Tibetan residing in India.
  • India’s Tibet policy should concern itself with shaping:
  1. How the Tibetan people conduct politics.
  2. The existence of credible, legitimate spiritual and political leadership outside China’s control.

India needs to change its policy of incoherence towards Tibet and bring purposeful policy with substantive actions.

3.From peace to conflict Prevention

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus-Gs2-India – China Relations

Context: Recently, China and India have agreed over five point consensus to conclude CBMs(Confidence building measures) to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

What are the Major Clashes/wra/face-offs between India and China?

  • 1962 war
  • Clashes at Nathu La in 1967,
  • Occupation of a post in Sumdorong Chu Valley by China in 1986.
  • After the 1962 war, the India-China border was loosely controlled by both sides. It has a sparse deployment of troops.
  • The China Study Group was established in 1976. It gave clarity to India’s claims by laying down the patrolling points and guiding the scope of military activity along the LAC.
  • Depsang intrusion in 2013.
  • Intrusion at Chumar in 2014.
  • 2017 Doklam standoff.
  • Clashes in Ladakh

What are the steps have been taken to resolve border issues between India and China?

1993 India-China Agreement:

  • India Accepted the term LAC in this agreement. However, there was no clarity as to where this line lay on the ground.
  • Differing perceptions:The ambiguity regarding LAC has forced India to adopt a policy of appeasement on the LAC. It called for creating a group of diplomatic and military experts for “resolution of differences between the two sides on the alignment of the line of actual control”. Abstain from the use of force to settle the boundary issue. Principle of mutual and equal security: Reduce military forces along the line of actual control.

Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity:

  • Chinese occupation 1986: It sparked realisation on both sides that the boundary issue needs to be settled and some mechanism must be evolved to keep peace along the LAC.
  • After PM visit to Beijing in 1988, both sides came up with Confidence building measures and some of the recommendations were incorporated in the agreement.

1996 Agreement on Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control:

  • Reduce or limiting military forces to minimum levels.
  • Limit the deployment of major armaments such as tanks, artillery guns, and missiles to mutually agreed levels.

2005 protocol on Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field:

  • Confidence-building measures in the event of face-off between two militaries.
  • Expand the mechanism of border meeting points.
  • No mention of a reduction in military forces.

What are the reasons behind increased number of clashes?

  • Unimplemented agreements: unimplemented aspects of the agreements, combined with a shift in military posture by both sides, has led to an erosion of confidence-building measures.
  • Differences in the alignment of the LAC: Some maps were exchanged of central sector but differences over the Western sector are not resolved. Also, the agreement on reducing military forces along the LAC to the minimum was not seriously implemented.
  • Faulty approach: India perceived Pakistan as major security threat. However, many Military Operations Directorate stated that in about 15 years, India’s primary adversary would be China.
  • Infrastructure development on Indian side: for example, building 73 strategic roads along the LAC, two new divisions were raised to strengthen deployment in Arunachal Pradesh, additional formations deployment in Ladakh and raising of a Mountain Strike Corps for the Northern border.
  • Frequent face-offs weakened the protocols. It led to complete loss of trust.

Five-point consensus is a good step forward but India should now focus more on conflict prevention.

4.Cancer burden in India

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- Health

Context: In order to reduce India’s cancer burden, the country needs to focus on early detection, programmatic and policy solutions.

What is the status of cancer in India and what are its causes?

  • India recorded 9 lakh cancer cases in august 2020, according to the reports of the Indian council of medical research (ICMR) and research national cancer registry programme (NCDIR).
  • Steady rise in cancer cases:India’s cancer burden increased 2.6 times between 1990 to 2016 and deaths due to cancer doubled, according to 2017 report.
  • Late detection:almost two-thirds of these cancer cases are at late stages.
  • Common cancers in men:Cancers found are mostly of the lung, oral cavity, stomach and oesophagus.
  • Common cancers in women:Cancers found are mostly of the breast, cervix, ovary, and gall bladder.
  • Risk factors:Tobacco use (in all forms) is a major avoidable risk factor for the development of cancer in 27 per cent of cancer cases.
  • Other important risk factors include use of alcohol, inappropriate diet, low physical activity, obesity and pollution.

What is cancer occurrence and what are the steps that can be taken to help cancer patients?

  • Cancer occurrence:It is a complex interplay of host and environmental determinants, which makes it difficult to predict it at an individual level.
  • Nearly 50-60 per cent of cancer cases can be avoidedby tackling the known risk factors effectively.
  • A multi-sectoral approach:community empowerment with the help of government, private practitioners and civil society to increase health literacy and promote certain behaviour can go a long way in reducing potential risk factors.
  • Improved awareness:In order to prevent the stigma attached to the disease, awareness about the disease needs to be increased.
  • Strengthening of health systems:In order to get greater access to screening and vaccination, early detection, timely and affordable treatment, the health systems need to be improved and strengthened.

What is the importance of data?

  • The information collected through the national cancer registry programme has been used effectively over the years to advocate for better access to screening, early detection, referral, treatment and comforting care services.
  • The data has also helped shape cancer research in India, which is of crucial importance to guide our efforts on cancer prevention and control.
  • Making cancer a notifiable disease: This could be one of the ways to help drive this research further by providing greater access to accurate, relevant data that can drive policy decisions.

What are the improvements and schemes introduced by the government?

  • Sustainable development goal:India is aiming to achieve a one-third reduction in deaths caused by cancer by 2030 and it has made considerable progress.
  • Improvements:The country has improved in areas such as personal hygiene, which are distant drivers of cancer.
  • Government programmes: Ayushman bharat, swachh bharat abhiyan, poshan abhiyaan, pradhan mantri  janaushadhi pariyojana.
  • Initiatives such as FSSAI’s new labelling and display regulations and drug price control can encourage inter-sectoral and multi-sectoral action.
  • Some other initiatives include national health policy, the national tobacco control programme, and the national programme for prevention and control of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Way forward

  • Reducing cancer is prerequisite for addressing social and economic inequity, stimulatiing economic growth and accelerating sustainable development.
  • Emphasis should be on the inclusivity in thinking and action for equitable solutions that can reduce the impact of cancer across all socio-economic levels of the country.

5.Malnutrition in India

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2 – Issues relating to poverty and hunger

Context- Malnutrition amongst the poorest in India remains high despite economic growth and government interventions.

What is Poshan Maah campaign?

Poshan Maah– It includes a month-long activities [during the month of September] focused on antenatal care, optimal breastfeeding, anemia, growth monitoring, girls education, diet, right age of marriage, hygiene and sanitation and eating healthy (food fortification).The campaign comes under the Poshan Abhiyan scheme.

Poshan Abhiyan – It also called as the National Nutrition Mission, it is Government of India’s flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

Implemented by– Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Aim- To reduce stunting, underweight and low birth weight each by 2% per year and anemia among young children, adolescents and women each by 3% per year until 2022.

How deep is the issue of malnutrition amongst children below the age of five years?

  1. India accounted for 28 percent of the world’s stunted children (low height-for-age) less than five years of age, and 43 per cent of the world’s wasted children (low weight-for-height) in 2019.
  2. As a proportion of India’s own population, around 14 per cent were undernourished during 2017-19.
  3. As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS, 2015-16), the proportion of underweight and stunted children was as high as 35.8 per cent and 38.4 per cent respectively.

The following map represents prevalence of underweight among children less than five years of age across India-


What are the key reasons behind massive malnutrition in India?

  1. Lack of women’s higher Education– Women’s education has a multiplier effect on the child’s feeding practice and the sanitation facility.Access and utilization of prenatal and postnatal health care services also play a significant role in curbing under nutrition among children.

Reasons for lower rate in female higher education in India-

  • Lack of basic facilities in school infrastructure such as separate toilets for girls.
  • Distance between the school and home, are major factors for higher dropout rates among girls.
  1. Monoculture agriculture practice
  • Food-based safety nets in India focused on increasing food production, particularly staples (rice and wheat).
  • This led to lower production and consumption of indigenous traditional crops, impacting food and nutrition security in the process.
  • Farmers are not encouraged and incentivized for agricultural diversification.
  1. Economic inequality– One of the major causes for malnutrition in India is economic inequality. Due to the low social status of population, their diet often lacks in both quality and quantity.
  2. Lax implementation
  • Providing nutritious food to the country’s children is more a matter of political will and effective policy implementation at the grassroots level.
  • Lacunae at policy level- There is a lack of real-time data that brings all these factors together to show the extent of India’s malnutrition.

What are the possible solutions to tackle malnutrition problem?

  • WASH in schools–  State governments need to promote sanitation in schooling via the provision of separate sanitation facilities for girls in schools.
  • Reducing drop-out rates– Initiatives like the distribution of bicycles to girls in secondary and high schools could help reduce the dropout rates among girls.
  • Upskilling Aanganwadi workers– Community participation via anganwadis can bring significant improvements in child-caring practices and antenatal care fothrough awareness programmes.
  • Diversified food basket– Government need to provide a more diversified food basket, including coarse grains, millets, pulses and bio-fortified staples to improve the nutritional status of pre-school children and women of reproductive age.
  • More research and innovation– The Harvest-Plus programme of CGIAR can work with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to grow new varieties of nutrient-rich staple food crops.

Way forward-

For POSHAN Maah to contribute towards the holistic nourishment of children and a malnutrition free India by 2030, the government needs to address the multi-dimensional determinants of malnutrition on an urgent basis. Moreover, fortification of government approved commodities within the social safety net programmes can improve nutritional outcomes.

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